• Families to defend charter schools in court

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    KING COUNTY, Wash. - Just 13 years old, Benjamin Bradley may look too young to fly -- but he wants to be a commercial airline pilot. He's already earning his wings at Excel Charter School.

    Today, his grandfather gathered with other charter school supporters at the King County Courthouse.

    “He's focused on what he needs to do in school, but underlying that there, he kind of wonders why are people trying to shut us down,” said Roland Bradley.

    They are against the recently filed lawsuit to strip charter schools of state money.

    “I want to be clear, this lawsuit is nothing more than a threat and a political ploy to rehash policy arguments in a courtroom by recasting them as nothing more than constitutional concerns,” said charter school parent Shirline Wilson.

    Now, charter school parents want to intervene in the case. Former Attorney General Rob McKenna is helping.

    “We will be asking the court to let those who will be directly affected have a say and some level of control in how this case proceeds,” McKenna said.

    The legislature passed a law to keep charter schools open after the State Supreme Court ruled that the charter school initiative wrongly kept local school boards from controlling education money.

    “It's still the same problem. They are diverting public funding into privately run charter schools that are not accountable to the voters,” said Washington Education Association spokesman Rich Wood.

    The State's Largest Teachers Union is part of a coalition suing to overturn the charter school law.

    “What they are doing is just delaying the ultimate outcome. We need to settle this based on the merits of the case and really have the courts decide once again that this law is unconstitutional."

    There is no word yet on a hearing date in King County Superior Court, but there will likely be appeals all the way back to the Washington Supreme Court.

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