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Supreme Court rules state not on track to meet McCleary deadline

The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state will not meet its constitutional requirement for fully funding basic education by the September 1, 2018 deadline the state had previously imposed. As a result, the Supreme Court will continue to impose daily sanctions and retain all enforcement options to drive compliance.

The order states that while the funding system adopted in EHB 2242 (passed last June during the 3rd special session) will eventually achieve constitutional compliance when fully implemented, the bill will delay that compliance by over a year from September 2018.

Because of this delay, the Supreme Court order says,

 “We cannot erode that constitutional right by saying that the State is now “close enough” to constitutional compliance. The goals have long been clear, the deadline has long been clear, and the meaning of “amply fund” has long been clear. Until the State enacts measures that fully implement its program of basic education by the September 1, 2018 deadline, it remains out of compliance. The court will retain jurisdiction, continue to impose daily sanctions, and reserve all enforcement options to compel compliance with its decision and orders.”

The state has been held in contempt by the court since 2014 for not adequately creating a complete plan for fully funding basic education in the state following the 2012 McCleary decision. Following the 2015 legislative session, the state remained in contempt and the court imposed a $100,000 daily sanction until the state adopted their complete education funding plan by 2018. With this ruling, the contempt order and sanctions will remain in place until the funding system is fully implemented.

In response to the court order, Gov. Inslee released the following statement,

“I’m encouraged the court recognized the incredible progress we’ve made toward fully funding basic education. As the court noted, the plan the Legislature adopted, but for the timing, will meet constitutional requirements.

I share the court’s disappointment that the Legislature did not meet its self-imposed 2018 deadline for fully funding basic education. The plan I put forward nearly a year ago would have done so.

I want to remind everyone that solving the McCleary decision is only one stop on our journey to give our students the education system they deserve.”

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