The McCleary Case

Recent actions regarding education funding in Washington State:

During the 2017 legislative session, Washington state lawmakers worked overtime to try and hit their 2018 deadline to fully implement a McCleary education funding solution. In the final days of June, they released an education plan and budget intended to meet the McCleary order and purge their contempt of court order.  In November 2017, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded that the state remains out of compliance and, in contempt of court, for failing to fully fund basic education for over one million public school students in our state.

Regarding class size reduction, the Supreme Court decided that the State has fulfilled its responsibility for implementing K-3 class size reductions. The law now requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, to form a work group to make recommendations for the possible phase in of additional staff and lower class sizes in grades 4 through 12.

The Workgroup:

Our students are still sitting in some of the most crowded classrooms in the country. We know that parents care deeply about the need to lower class sizes and provide more individual instruction to all students. Class Size Counts is committed to shining a bright light on the work of this new work group to ensure it is a transparent and public process. Help us by staying connected, following us on Facebook and Twitter, and join our requests to help us ensure this work is taken seriously and represents your views.

Even if the Supreme Court didn’t rule that class sizes in grades 4 – 12 are required as part of the McCleary lawsuit – we believe all students deserve lower class sizes and access to school nurses, counselors, and other school staff.

History of the McCleary Case:

The McCleary v State is the groundbreaking court decision that found our state is not meeting its obligations to our students.

The McCleary v State case was filed in 2007 in King County Superior Court, where a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2010. In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision and ruled unanimously that the State of Washington is violating its constitutional “paramount duty” to amply fund education for all k-12 students. The McCleary decision, as it has become to be known, directed the state to fully fund K-12 public schools as required by Article IX of the Washington State Constitution, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” The Supreme Court retained jurisdiction of the case and demanded annual progress reports to ensure compliance.

On Sept. 11, 2014, the Supreme Court found the Legislature in contempt of court. When the state failed again to meet the Court’s order to provide an implementation plan, the Supreme Court imposed a fine of $100,000 per day on August 13, 2015. When we last checked in September 2017, the state’s contempt of court fines exceeded $75 million.

Links to all McCleary court decisions and reports and more information can be found here:
Supreme Court Documents
McCleary FAQs from the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools