Issaquah School District lawsuit headed to state Supreme Court

April 30, 2009

By Staff

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The School Districts’ Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education, which includes Issaquah, is continuing its special education funding lawsuit efforts against the state.

The alliance is turning to the state Supreme Court after the state Court of Appeals upheld the state’s funding system for special education March 10. The 12 districts formed an alliance to file a lawsuit against the state and share lawsuit costs in 2004. Included in the alliance are the Bellingham, Bethel, Burlington-Edison, Everett, Federal Way, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Puyallup, Riverside and Spokane school districts. 

District officials say the state’s funding system for special education is unconstitutional and inadequate, and leaves them funding a large portion of special-education programs with local taxpayer dollars. They argue that under the state constitution, the state should fully fund special-education programs. 

The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee. His decision, issued in March 2007, determined the state’s funding cap on special education violates the state’s constitution. 

However, McPhee’s ruling did not find that the state’s overall special-education funding formula is unconstitutional, the heart of the alliance’s argument.  

Officials from 12 school districts appealed the original verdict rendered by the lower court.

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