In a surprise ruling delivered late Friday afternoon, Washington state's Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law authorizing government funding of charter schools that was backed by some of the country's biggest education donors, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
By a 6-3 vote, the court said privately operated charters are not "common schools" under state law and cannot receive government money, as mandated by an effort narrowly passed by Washington voters in 2012. Because such schools "are run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization and thus are not subject to local voter control, they cannot qualify as 'common schools,' " Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in the majority opinion.
Nine charters were set to operate across the state this school year under the terms of the initiative, known as I-1240. Bill Gates; a development firm led by his former Microsoft partner, Paul Allen; and Walmart heiress Alice Walton collectively contributed $6.3 million of the $10 million-plus raised to support the measure in the 2012 campaign.