Having trouble understanding the McCleary decision? Uncertain about what exactly is the McCleary school-funding case? Us too, so we’ll be going over the timeline and the facts in a two-part blog series.
In this first part, we will be focusing on the timeline of crucial events.
2007: Two families (McCleary & Venema) sued Washington state over insufficient school funding. Both families were involved with their school districts. Stephanie McCleary was the personnel director of Chimacum School District and Patty Venema was heavily involved with her kid’s education while they were growing up in Snohomish. The lawsuit wasn’t their idea, but they were approached by constitutional lawyers and school officials to see if they would be interested in listing their names as the plaintiffs. Both Stephanie and Patty were aware of school budget cuts and oversized classrooms and knew that they wanted to be involved. The families along with a coalition known as Network for Excellence in Washington State filed a lawsuit on Jan 11, 2007.
2010: King County Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
2011: State Supreme Court hears oral arguments
2012: On Jan 5th, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the legislature had failed to meet its constitutional obligations to all WA state students. The court took jurisdiction over the case to monitor progress. On July 18th, the court ordered the legislature to come up with a school funding solution. The Legislature was asked to report back their progress to the court at the conclusion of each legislative session from 2013-2018.
2013: State Supreme Court finds that the State’s first report fails the order’s requirements.
2014: State Supreme Court directed the State to provide a complete plan for fully education funding by the school 2018-2019 school year (Sept 1, 2018). On January 9th, the State Supreme Court finds the legislature in contempt for failing to establish a funding plan, resulting in a daily $100,000 fine. The daily fines would continue from August 2015 until June 2018. All funding went towards the education budget.
2017: On Nov 15th, the court determined that the State had achieved full compliance with court orders except the legislature delayed complete implementation for full funding of basic education salaries until the 2019-2020 school year. The delay failed to meet the State’s obligations and the court ruled that the State remained in contempt and sanctions remained in place.
2018: On June 7th, the State Supreme Court ruled that the State had satisfied conditions of the McCleary Decision. The ruling prompted extra funding for public schools, including $2 billion in the budget for teacher’s salaries. In August, teachers across the State went on strike until the districts could negotiate higher salaries. Funding for each school district was negotiated on a local level.
So what comes next? In part two we will go over how the McCleary case came to be and what the future holds for WA public schools.