High court may find lawmakers in contempt of school funding order

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Friday, June 13, 2014 10:12am
  • Local News

State Supreme Court justices are running out of patience with lawmakers for not doing a better job funding public schools.

On Thursday, justices said they want lawmakers to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for not enacting a schedule for fully funding Washington’s schools as the court directed them to do.

The court scheduled a show-cause hearing Sept. 3.

All of this dates back to the 2012 decision in the McCleary case. The court ruled then that the state had failed to meet its constitutional duty to pay the full cost of a basic education for the roughly 1 million students in public elementary and secondary schools.

That decision gave lawmakers until the 2017-18 school year to comply. Then in January the court told lawmakers to produce a progress report by April that included a timeline for completing the task. Lawmakers reported they tried but could not reach agreement on a timeline.

Here are some actions the court said it might take if it finds lawmakers in contempt:

-Impose monetary sanctions;

-Prohibit spending on non-education services and programs “until the Court’s constitutional ruling is complied with”;

-Order the Legislature to fund specific amounts for education programs;

-Invalidate school funding cuts

-Prohibit any funding “of an unconstitutional education system.”

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