Justices from the state’s top court sharply questioned an attorney representing the Legislature on Wednesday over why lawmakers shouldn’t be held in contempt for not providing a plan to adequately fund Washington’s public schools, our online news partner The Seattle Times reported. Also attending the 50-minute session was Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit, who told MLTnews following the proceeding that “clearly the court is upset with the state” for not complying with the court’s 2012 ruling.
Brossoit attended the session in his capacity as president of the statewide Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), which includes in its membership 203 school districts representing nearly 90 percent of Washington’s public school students. NEWS was launched in October 2005 “when it became clear that action was needed to force the State to make good on its promise to each and every child in Washington,” according to the organization website.
According to the Times report, the unusual proceeding was the latest clash between the Legislature and the high court arising from the 2012 ruling in which the court declared lawmakers are violating the constitutional rights of the state’s 1 million schoolchildren by failing to live up to the state constitution’s requirement to provide them with a basic education.
The nine justices of the state Supreme Court repeatedly asked why they should believe the Legislature’s promise that it will make more progress in the 2015 budget session than it has in all other sessions since the court’s 2012 landmark school-funding decision, the Times said. The court called for the hearing in April, after the state failed to craft a funding plan by the end of the 2014 legislative session.
Brossoit told MLTnews it is unclear when the court will make a decision about whether to hold the state in contempt for failing to comply with its ruling. “We hope that the court will be wise enough to know what consequences to use to get the state to act,” he said.
“A court order is not a suggestion; it’s an order,” Brossoit added. “A million schoolchildren in our state are counting on us to get this figured out.”
You can watch the videotaped archive of the court’s session on TVW here.