The McCleary Case

History of the McCleary Case:

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. As of September 2017, the state’s contempt of court fines exceeded $75 million.

During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers worked overtime to try and hit their 2018 deadline to fully implement a McCleary 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.

Current Status:

The Washington State Supreme Court convened at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 to hear the State defend their budget and education funding plan.

The State argued they have met their constitutional obligation with this new education plan. But, in providing more state support for schools, the legislature also lowered the amount that it will allow school districts to levy to provide enrichment beyond what the state considers basic. Many school districts have expressed concern that the State’s new education funding plan provides less funding or only very small increases as compared to the prior funding models used by the State. And, the state indefinitely delayed implementation of Initiative 1351 and lower class sizes – creating a study process in its place. In other words, the state walked away from the lower class sizes that voters approved in Initiative 1351 while simultaneously limiting local school districts’ ability to make those investments for their students.

Class Size Counts will continue to fight for smaller class sizes for all students and support the McCleary case as it moves forward. Stay tuned to this page for important updates throughout the year.

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