Supreme Court Ruling Disappoints 12-District Alliance

State's Continued Failure to Fully Fund K-12 Special Education

Dec 09, 2010, 20:39 ET from School Districts' Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education

OLYMPIA, Wash., Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the State Supreme Court upheld the current, inadequate system for funding of special education in the State of Washington.  In its ruling concerning this historic lawsuit, the Court upheld a lower court's decision that denied the request of the School Districts' Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education that the current system of funding special education be declared unconstitutional.

Originally filed in 2004 by a coalition of 12 districts challenging the State of Washington's failure to fully fund special education, the lawsuit was supported by a Friend of the Court Brief on behalf of 77 other school districts.  All together, the Alliance and Amicus School Districts serve nearly twothirds of the students in this state receiving special education services.

"The current special education funding system is inadequate.  We are disappointed that the Court did not recognize that these programs are significantly underfunded, resulting in impacts for all children," said Rob Neu, Superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools. "The State has a constitutional obligation to provide ample resources for the education of all children."

"The court failed a basic math test. We simply can't use the same dollars twice. The court's conclusion that Basic Education Funding may be available to help fund special education programs does not reflect reality in our schools. The dollars that we use to pay for Basic Education services, to which every student is entitled, cannot be used again to provide special education students the services they need to succeed," said Dr. Chip Kimball, Superintendent of Lake Washington School District.  

"While the decision is disappointing, we are committed to honoring the rights and dignity of all students. On behalf of all the parents and children who attend our schools, we will continue to raise the issue of inadequate funding," said Dr. Nancy Stowell, Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools.  

"We can't afford to ignore the situation that exists: demand for special education services continues to expand while funding is shrinking," said Steve Rasmussen, Superintendent of Issaquah School District. "We will continue to raise this important issue with the Legislature."

Alliance members will continue to work with the Legislature and the Governor to improve the special education funding system.

About the School Districts' Alliance

In 2004, the School Districts' Alliance filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington for its consistent failure to fully fund special education programs. The members of the Alliance are Bellingham, Bethel, Burlington-Edison, Everett, Federal Way, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Puyallup, Riverside and Spokane School Districts.

More than 70 school districts joined the Friend of the Court Brief filed with the State Supreme Court by the Tacoma School District in support of the Alliance.  These school districts are located across the State.  They include Vancouver and Seattle School Districts as well as Moses Lake and Yakima School Districts.  All together the Alliance and Amicus School Districts serve nearly two thirds of the students in this state receiving special education services.

Media Contacts:  

Grace Yuan, K&L Gates for School Districts' Alliance (206) 370-7814

Chris Hirst, K&L Gates for School Districts' Alliance (206) 370-8336



SOURCE School Districts' Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education