As the plaintiff in the McCleary case, the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) filed their brief with the State Supreme Court in response to the what they see as the legislatures failure to meet the Court's demands by April 30 for a detailed basic education budget plan. It is no surprise to any of us that they are not pleased with the legislative response and are asking the Court to hold the legislature in contempt once again ratcheting up the potential for major conflict between the two bodies.
(2) submit a “complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-18 school year” – including “a phase in schedule for fully funding each of the components of basic education” identified in ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776.
January 2014 Order at p.8 (underline added).
That was an Order.
Not a suggestion.
As the following pages explain, however, the State’s 2014 filing did not comply with that Order.
Instead, the State did what it had been ordered to not do. It offered promises about trying to submit a plan and take significant action next year – along with excuses for why the State’s ongoing violation of kids’ constitutional rights and court orders should be excused this year. Plaintiffs18 respectfully submit that this Court should not condone the State’s violation of court orders or constitutional rights. Plaintiffs accordingly request that this Court take immediate, concrete action to compel compliance with the court orders and constitutional rights that the State continues to violate in this case.
In the brief NEWS is basically asking the Court if court orders really matter.
This Court must decide whether court orders really matter. The defendant in this case understood the January 2014 Order’s complete phase-in-plan requirement. But it did not comply. Just like it did not comply with the similar mandate in this Court’s December 2012 Order. A defendant’s violating court orders is perfectly fine if court orders don’t really matter in our State. But plaintiffs respectfully submit that court orders do matter, and that all defendants – even the government – must obey court orders.
They go on to make the following request of the Court.
Plaintiffs’ respectfully submit that the school children of our State need this Court to create that urgency by following through and firmly enforcing its rulings in this case. Strike one was bad. Strike two was worse. But strike three is completely unacceptable if court orders or constitutional rights matter in this State. Plaintiffs submit that at the very least, this Court should accordingly:
Hold the legislature in contempt of court at least until the State fully complies with the Court Orders in this case.
Enjoin the State from digging the unconstitutional underfunding hole deeper by imposing any more unfunded or underfunded mandates on its schools.149
Declare that if the State does not fully comply with this Court’s January 2014 Order by December 31, 2014, this Court will in January 2015 issue strong judicial enforcement orders (such as those by other courts noted above) in order to compel the State to comply with this Court’s Orders and with Washington childrens’ positive constitutional right to an amply funded education.
Strong language and a challenge to the Court. Now we wait to see how the Court will respond. The response will have a significant impact on the 2015 legislative session and long term status of public education in our state.