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Who Tried to Save Charter Schools in Washington?

March 28, 2016


Melissa Westbrook
Executive Summary
Washington State passed a charter school initiative in November 2012 by a less
than 2% margin after three previous failures both in legislature and at the ballot
box.
A variety of groups the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education
Association, and El Centro de la Raza among others filed suit that the law was
unconstitutional on a variety of grounds.
It's important to recall that the King County ruling - the original ruling on the law in
December 2013 - stated that charter schools were not common schools for
funding BUT that fact could be severed from the law. The ruling was then
challenged to the Supreme Court. By the time it got to the Supreme Court,
charter schools had already started enrolling students. Not a single charter
school website nor charter school advocacy group website warned prospective
parents of this litigation.
The Supreme Court ruling, 6-3, on September 4, 2015, found that half right - they
said charter schools were not common schools and, without the funding, could
not exist. They remanded the case back to King County Court where it still sits.
Also, to understand, the Court was very clear that this was "not about the merits
or demerits of charter schools" nor would the Court address their usefulness and
said they would leave that to the Legislature and voters. The issue for the Court
was the constitution.
The uproar from charter schools and their supporters was immediate. They
called fouled and asked for a reconsideration from the Court. The Court denied
that request on November 19, 2915.
The charter schools were concerned over whether their schools could continue
on without state funding. However, public disclosure e-mails show that they had
the money from private sources, like Steve Ballmer and the Broad Foundation,

in less than a week. However, those funders did not want that disclosed in order
to help their campaign to get a new law in place, either thru a special session of
the legislature called by the Governor or when the session started in Feb. 2016.
Further, public disclosure documents as well as other official documents from
OSPI show that OSPI bent over backwards to help these students remain public
schools students. It should be observed that each student was always able to
enroll in public schools in the school district where they resided. There was
never any question that any student would be denied a public education.
A major player in this situation was the Washington State Charter Schools
Association (known as WA Charters.) They, along with the charter schools,
brought in lobbyists, and PR firms like GMMB.
The intersection of OSPI and WA Charters in finding a home district for these
students brought them to tiny Mary Walker School District near Spokane. The
superintendent at MWSD, Kevin Jacka, was a Charter School Commissioner until
right after he had his school board vote to become that home district to these
charter students via a program called ALE (Alternative Learning Experience.)
After that vote, he then resigned as a Charter Commissioner.
Superintendent Dorn wrote new rules in order to allow charter schools students
to not have to get permission from their residential district to get their teaching
and learning thru an ALE. (Regularly, school districts have to sign what is called
an inter-local but Dorn overrode that requirement.)
Dorn also did not require the most important element of the ALE which is an
Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP) which lays out the learning for each
student. The requirement said the ILP had to be in place within a week but Dorn
overrode that requirement and allowed the charters more than a month to do it.
One other key issue that Dorn and all the school districts chose to overlook is
that there was a window of time from the Court ruling to when the ALEs were in
place when nearly every single charter student was truant under the law.
Everyone chose to look the other way for charter students in this situation.

The charter schools and their supporters used their money and their influence
and their lobbyists to rush thru a deeply flawed bill that now sits on the desk of a
Governor who ran as being against charter schools. The legislature could have
chosen to save these eight charters schools but waited on a new bill that
would pass constitutional muster and yet Republican legislators refused to
do that.
The charter schools and their supporters advocated for less-than-ethical actions
in order to survive.
Whether any governor should sign a bill under these circumstances is an
important question.

Who Tried to Prop Up Charter Schools in Washington State?


March 28, 2016
A narrative by Melissa Westbrook, writer/moderator of Seattle Schools
Community Forum blog based on media reports, her own reporting and
public disclosure documents from OSPI and Green Dots Destiny Middle
School charter school. All items in italic are quotes and any items in
bold were done by me.

BACKGROUND
Washington State passed a charter school initiative in November 2012 by a less
than 2% margin after three previous failures both in legislature and at the ballot
box. From The Progressive:
The initiative is based on a model bill written by the American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC, the Center for Media and Democracy explains,
is a powerful group that influences the legislative process around the country by
enabling right-wing Republicans to work face-to-face with corporate lobbyists to
author and pass model bills that can be replicated from state to state
After getting Initiative 1240 onto the ballot, proponents of the bill spent $10.9
million, making it the third most expensive initiative campaign in state history. Six
individuals collectively spent more than $9 million in support of the initiative,
including Bill Gates, Alice Walton of the WalMart fortune, and Eli Broad, founder
of the Broad Foundation. In contrast, opponents of the measure raised
approximately $700,000.
A variety of groups the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education
Association, and El Centro de la Raza among others filed suit that the law was
unconstitutional on a variety of grounds.
To note, the Washington State constitution has very specific language on public
education for K-12, calling it the paramount duty of the state make ample
provision for the education of all children resident within its borders, without
distinction or preference on account of race, color, case, or sex. It also laid out a
naming of common schools to be funded out of the General Fund versus other
types of public schools.
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It's important to recall that the King County ruling - the original ruling on the law
in December 2013 - stated that charter schools were not common schools for
funding BUT that fact could be severed from the law.
However, the Supreme Court ruling, 6-3, on September 4, 2015, found that half
right - they said charter schools were not common schools and, without the
funding, could not exist.
Also, to understand, the Court was very clear that this was "not about the merits
or demerits of charter schools" nor would the Court address their usefulness and
said they would leave that to the Legislature and voters.
The issue for this court is what are the requirements of the constitution.
The Court was not ruling about the law being a "strong" law or "right" or "fair" - it
was about meeting the constitution of the state of Washington.
The defendants filed for a reconsideration of the ruling and the Supreme Court
ruled against it, 5-4, on November 19,2105.
While the Court's timing was not good, AGAIN, most the blame for upset charter
parents should be laid at the feet of the Charter Commission and charter schools
who did not advise prospective parents of this lawsuit.
Using public disclosure documents from Green Dot Public Schools (GDPS) and
OSPI, it is possible to follow a timeline of events by many people and groups that
tried to save charter schools.
As it stands today, approximately 700 students from former charter schools
(down from a stated high of about 1200 students) are enrolled thru Mary Walker
School District near Spokane in an ALE program (Alternative Learning
Experience.) One former charter school, Summit Sierra, has their 200 students
in a homeschooling program.

BEFORE AND AFTER THE SUPREME COURT RULING:


What Parents Were Told
One early talking point to parents was this:
Why didnt you wait for ruling?
The charter schools cited an urgent need to help kids and that the King County
court had said charters were public schools. We moved forward with support of
the law, consistent with an urgent need to serve our students and our families.
The charter schools decided their need to open was greater than actually telling
families from the start about the lawsuit. None of the charter schools had
information about the lawsuit and its status in the Supreme Court at their
websites prior to the ruling.
Later the talking points to parents changed:
We were as shocked as al of you to get this news for a few specific reasons.
- First, the Court had this case for almost a year. That they waited until our
school was open is extremely frustrating.
Then there was a Q&A for parents from Green Dot charter group:
Q. Did you know this could happen? Why are we just learning about this ruling?
A. Our priority over the last year has been to ensure Destiny Middle School was
fully prepared to open our doors this fall, because we wanted to give your
children a great education that met their individual needs and interests.
We were aware of the lawsuit and knew that anything was possible. But we also
knew Washingtons voter-approved charter school law was crafted to be one of
the strongest in the nation.
Legal experts in the state had given us confidence all along that a State Supreme
Court decision like this one was unlikely. They believed that should a ruling come
out against the public charter school law, it would have been narrower and

wouldnt have affected the entire law. In fact, when this lawsuit was in front of the
King County Superior Court, it rules that the common schools provision was
severable from the other elements of the law.
Public charter school advocates argued in support of the law in front of the State
Supreme Court almost a year ago. We dont know why the Court would make
this decision after schools were already opened. That just isnt the right decision
for kids.
I could find no documentation either in the public disclosure documents nor the
charter school websites that explains why the charter supporters did not file for
an expedited ruling with the Supreme Court which would have likely prevented
this outcome of opening charter schools under a cloud.
In a recent interview on TVW, Chief Justice Madsen pointed out the average time
for most cases to go thru the Court and that the charter school case was,
indeed, about average at 90-120 days. She also made the disclosure that no
request for an expedited ruling was made.
Maggie Meyers from the Washington State Charter Schools Association
(WSCSA) in a September 5, 2015 e-mail told other charter leaders We are
hearing from some parents that they have not been notified yet by their charter
school. This after the ruling had been rendered.
What else did the charter schools say about the ruling?
-

They talked about making the issue of charter schools a moral


imperative for lower courts.
The head of Excel charter school, Gillian Williams in a September 6,
2015 e-mail to other charter school leaders - said this:
"This fight is not over and the truth-telling about the crass media play
of this court at the cost of students who most need support has not even
begun."

As well, Bill Kiolbasa WSCSAs CFO in a September 6, 2015 e-mail said:

Some might read the timing of the Courts decision 4 pm on a Friday before a
holiday weekend as an intentional effort to confuse, delay, and divide charter
proponents in an effort to further weaken the movement.
The final item includes a formal advocacy and political campaign to be managed
going forward by an expert national political consulting/campaign firm.

RIGHT AFTER THE RULING


September 4, 2015
Tom Franta CEO of WSCSA to charter school leaders:
Guys, The Supreme Court just ruled, and it looks badvery bad.
This was followed by an e-mail the same day from Gillian Williams as Board
Chair of Excel to other charter leaders:
Appreciate the efforts of the Commission and WA charters on legal and political
front but best efforts are not likely to be enough in this fight. As the leaders of the
board I think we need to have a much stronger voice here and stop waiting for the
direction of the other groups.
I also think we should have a very public voice. Too many people I am talking
with are simply saying "oh good, no more charters." Even the anti-charter folks
need to understand the travesty of how this decision was handled.
We create either a letter to the editor or take out a full-page ad in major
newspapers with our united position. We need public outcry about what is being
done to these 1200 students.
"Founders made implicit promises and staff signed up to lead the way on
this. Founders can and should support these staff so they are not left hanging,
and so that they are in a position to support any transition for students and
families should they need to retire to traditional schools mid-stream.
Who Ms. Williams was referring to as founders is unclear; she may have meant
those who funded the charter schools.
For example, Green Dot Washington had already received start-up funds from
the Broad Foundation of $475K. The Charter School Growth Fund had given
them about $3.9M and the Gates Foundation had given Green Dot Public
Schools about $3.3M for national expansion.)
September 6 e-mail from Paul Graves at Perkins Coie law firm (he is on the
Board of Excel Charter School):

WSCSA expects $15M funding promises by end of the week which should be
enough to keep each school open for the rest of the year. PR hit (if you can
raise that much money so fast why do you need public funds?) but
obviously for the best
- Initiative- not a first choice by any means but contracting with an initiative
organization to explore the possibility
- PR campaign that firm has hired that is coordinating messaging, op-eds,
interview, etc.
PLANS FOR RALLIES RIGHT AFTER RULING
Several rallies were planned at charter schools sites throughout the state.
Sep. 4 from Genny Cadena, Principal at Green Dots Destiny Middle School
Green Dot National has a whole team of people working on talking points for us
and they want us to call individual parents.
Stand for Children Washington is credited as one of the founders of Green Dots
Destiny Middle School. Stand for Children Washington organized the rallies.
E-mail from Stand for Children Washington head, Dave Powell, had details for the
four rallies planned in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent and Spokane.
Eric Shellan at Stand will work with GMMB and WSCSA on ensuring flyers are
ready for Schools to distribute on the rallies Tuesday morning.
Stand is working on drafting the agendas and event logistics, including arranging
travel to the events as needed from individual schools.
GMMB is a national PR/communications firm based in Seattle and Washington,
D.C.
Sep 7
Rush on t-shirts for rallies - $5,000 plus $1,000 for rush delivery
Sept 8

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Anne Martens at the Gates Foundation wants to throw a bake sale at rally for PR
stunt. She wrote to Bree Dusseault at Destiny Middle School and Jen Wickens at
Summit Sierra:
The teacher Union in Seattle is organizing a soup drive to feed the teacher(sic)
as they go on strike and the media is loving it.
But Jen Wickens at Summitt didn't want to do this because they had told families
they DID have the money for the year and didnt want to confuse the issue.
(Note: Ms. Martens was referencing the Seattle teachers strike that was going on
and support for it. It was not teachers who organized this support; it was Seattle
Schools parents who organized in support of teachers and schools thru a new
group, Soup for Teachers. Their work was not a PR stunt: they ended up
supporting teachers at every single Seattle public school.)
September 11, 2015 E-mail from Washington head of Stand for Children, Dave
Powell
I just heard back from the lobbyists for Stand, DFER and LEV. Staff from
Stand,LEV and other groups available to make phone calls, pass out flyers.

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CONTINUING ON AS PUBLIC SCHOOLS


OSPI said that these schools, after the final ruling on the reconsideration by the
Supreme Court, were former charter schools. The charter schools then had to
decide what road they would take to continue on public or private. E-mails
indicate that they were all prepared to go private.
But for the eight remaining charter schools including Green Dot if they
remained public or private, there was worry over how to fund their schools for the
rest of the year.
Sep 7th e-mail from Rekha Bhatt at WA Charters to Charter leaders
On agenda for conference call
School operations - work with Randy Dorn and Rob McKenna to ensure a path
forward (independent schools, home school, ALE possibly pilot)
Note: Rob McKenna is the former Republican Attorney General of Washington
State and ran for governor in 2012 and lost to Democratic Jay Inslee. He now
has a website Smarter Government Washington.
September 6 e-mail from Marco Petruzzi, CEO of Green Dot Public Schools, to
Maruerite Kondracke of Social Venture Partners Seattle, Bree Dusseault of
Green Dots Destiny Middle School and Andrew Buhayar of the Gates Foundation
(who is also on the Washington board of Green Dot schools):
I did get an informal we got your back from Gates on Friday night before
sending out the email to our staff asking them not to worry about their livelihood.
I think they and a bunch other foundations will come up with the $14M
pretty quickly.
I have met with Duncan before, but my impression is that Don Shalvey (at the
Gates Foundation) may be best conduit for that conversation. I will reach out
directly to Ted Mitchell, who used to be on our Board and is now Deputy
Secretary under Duncan. Im hoping to get from him a clearer picture of their
willingness to get involved, given the federal vs state issues involved, as well as
the judicial precedent that was set.

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September 11th from Chad Soleo, Vice President of Advancement at Green Dot
Public Schools.
We have cleared a big hurdle already in this step. Weve secured financial
commitments to keep us open throughout the year without reliance on
public funding.
From a September 12th e-mail from Dave Stewart at Vulcan to Andrew Jassy at
Amazon (Mr. Jassy is on the board of Pride Prep charter school.)
Ballmer is contributing $5M. He has not yet allocated the amounts, but it will be
spread across bridging local charter schools, advocacy and other support.
Nick Hanauer, Eli Broad and Alice Walton are also likely to make significant
contributions, although it is not clear to what extent it will be allocated to bridging
existing schools, advocacy or other support.
The charter association and funder representatives agreed to wait 2-3
weeks before announcing these grants.
Reasons:
Provide more time for individual schools to raise money, and for more funders to
commit
Building a broader coalition of supporters by inviting person of ordinary means to
contribute small sums and participate in a joint announcement that better reflects
the communities these schools were created to serve.
Schools have money from existing grant sources to maintain operations
into October.
Therefore, we anticipate waiting until late-September, early October to release
any funds so that we may determines the final funding gap needed.
So in just days, all the charter schools had secured funding for the rest of the
year BUT their funders didnt want anyone to know right away for PR reasons.

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September 23rd e-mail from Marguerite Kondracke to Marco Petruzzi as well as


Bree Dusseault and Andrew Buhayar:
So we are still going to receive payments from the state, according to the Seattle
Times? If so, lets put it in a reserve account. Odds are, we will be asked to pay
it back if the court ruling stands.
Reply from Marco Petruzzi to Bree Dusseault at Green Dot as well as Marguerite
Kondracke and Andrew Buhayar:
I think we spend the funds, since we have a backstop with Gates. Ive rarely
seen a situation where we would have to return funds. But this may be it.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT RANDY DORN AND OSPI


Superintendent Dorn and his staff did several things. On December 3, 2015 he
released a memorandum (No. 072-15M Financial and Governmental Relations)
labeled informational.
It stated that OSPI would facilitate the transfer of students from resident
districts and that no action will be required by resident districts that
approve OSPIs facilitation of the transfers.
Meaning, OSPI would do all the work for resident districts who agreed but some
did not agreed to do this.
December 17 e-mail from Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland to Superintendent
Kevin Jacka of MWSD:
As we have made clear to OSPI and now to you, we do not intend to subvert
legal processes to find ways to fund charter schools that have been ruled
unconstitutional. Parents will need to ask us for a release. (I understand that
OSPI is evidently looking for a way to subvert the current legal processes by
removing our local control of this process.)

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Jan 7, 2016 letter from Karen Vialle, President of Tacoma Public Schools School
Board to Justyn Turner, President of the Mary Walker District School Board:
I am writing in response to the enclosed correspondence from your
Superintendent, Kevin Jacka.
From the Tacoma School District, perspective, we have clear legal direction now
that the Supreme Court of Washington has found the former Washington Charter
School Law to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also explicitly determined
that the provision of common school funds to charter schools is unconstitutional.
The Tacoma School District takes compliance with laws and regulations
seriously.
It also appears that the Mary Walker School District is actively attempting to
circumvent the Supreme Courts ruling and wants the Tacoma School District to
assist it in doing so.
There is no statutory authority to support the emergency rule-making that OSPI
has undertaken to strip the statutory rights that have been afforded to all school
districts by the Washington Legislature.
Dorn said he had the authority and rewrote the rules for Alternative Learning
Environments (ALEs) which was, in the end, the choice for seven charter schools
for their students. (ALEs provide a Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP) for
each student.) (Summit Sierra charter school chose to have their students
become home-schooled students even as they attended Summit in the same
manner they had been previously done. Why Summit made this choice is
unclear.)
There had to be a school district that would be the host district for these ALE
students. Tiny Mary Walker School District outside of Spokane, whose
superintendent, Kevin Jacka, was a former Washington State Charter
Commissioner, said they would be the host. (To note, with each ALE student
there was state dollars. MWSD received those dollars and then, in turn,
contracted with the charter schools to fulfill each students WSPL. Of course,
MWSD, which has about 500 students total, now more than doubled overnight

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and would receive a portion of those dollars for administrative purposes for each
student.)
Dorn stated in the Memo that the district accepting Choice Transfers would start
receiving state dollars even in the absence of a WSLP. This is in direct
contradiction to stated protocol from an ALE and the WSLP Webinar at OSPI
from April 2013. How schools could fulfill the ALE without a WSLP is not clear.
One rule Dorn rewrote was about how students can be part of an ALE not within
their own district. Each district is legally responsible for the education of public
school students within their boundaries. So when the parents of the students
decided to go with an ALE choice, each student individually had to request a
release from their school district. (The release is called Choice Transfer.)
Most of the students were from Seattle SC, Tacoma SD, Kent SD, Spokane SD
and Highline SD. Seattle and Tacoma declined to do so (as seen in the above
quoted e-mail/letter from Seattle SD and Tacoma SD.) Dorn told the charter
schools and the regular public districts that he didnt need their release and
authorized them himself.
He then had Mary Walker School District request a parent request for each
student. Public disclosure documents show that for Green Dot charter school
(Destiny Middle School), MWSDs business manager signed her name in the
Choice Transfer box which was intended for a parent signature. As well, the
MWSD provided their own address and contact information which was
intended for parental contact information.
Another rule that Dorn rewrote was on the ALP. According to OSPI regulations
on ALEs, each student must have an ALP in place within weeks and yet Dorn
waived that until Feb.1. That means that every charter school student under an
ALE plan was operating without an ALP for at least a month. How each students
work was known or tracked or graded is unclear.
Also about ALEs, this from OSPI:
In light of a significant state auditor findings for a number of ALE programs in
the past, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction requested funding

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from the state legislature for a program compliance monitor position. The request
was granted in the 2014 supplemental budget as outlined in ESSB 6002.
The intent of this endeavor is help programs understand the pertinent laws, rules
and regulations related to ALE. Hopefully, this work, conducted in
collaboration with ALE programs, will help those programs identify areas
for improvement and avoid potential, costly SAO findings in the future.
Mike Jennings, a consultant hired for the charter student work for MWSD, writes
to OSPI staff in December with concerns:
Has SAO passed judgment on the one time WSLP approved and in place
extension? Per their review of the extension, will this year's converted Charter
School's WSLP's pass an audit if the approval date is between December 1st and
January 31st and Mary Walker received apportionment funding for December
and January?
The answer was no, the SAO didn't weigh in because they do audits at the end of
a process, not the beginning.
Sep. 6 e-mail from Bree Dusseault, Executive Director at Green Dot Public
Schools, Greater Seattle area
Three options being discussed so far are independent, homeschool, or online
school, summit is researching this and should have more information for the call.
This is what could prevent us from staying open after Sep 24 th as not having
status would make our students truant. We may need to put pressures on
Randy Dorn and OSPI to expedite this for us.
Sep 11 e-mail from Ben Rarick, Executive Director of the State Board of
Education to Joshua Halsey, Executive Director of the Washington State Charter
Commission and Superintendent Randy Dorn saying
I am led to believe that the rest of the charter schools are of a similar mind (to be
private).
Randy, OSPI staff may very quickly be in a situation where we are in receipt of 8
private school applications... For our part, we are preparing to call a next-day
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emergency meeting of the board to ensure that these schools (meeting re'q) are
approve and avoid compulsory school attendance law entanglements.
September 12 e-mail from Mitch Price, Director of Policy and Government
Relations at WA Charters
-

Until KC Superior Court officially invalidates charter school law, schools


continue to operate as public charter schools (this could be days, weeks or
months.)
Meanwhile, schools apply for conditional approval of their private school
application and/or negotiate ALE service provider contracts with a host
school district; application/contract would stipulate that it is only effective
if/when KC superior court invalidates charter school act;
I see no need for schools to collect or submit homeschool petitions this
week, given the expedited reviews of private schools applications and the
ALE contract process, the fact that OSPI has said ALE apportionment
dollars could flow even before an ALE contract is executed and the
email fro Dierk starting (sic) that school districts have no authority to
refuse to accept a declaration of intent to homeschool past the 15 day
window.

One issue not addressed by Dorn or OSPI how many charter students
were truant from the time of the Supreme Court ruling to when their status
changed via OSPI?
Sep 11 e-mail from Rekha Bhatt at WSCSA to Bree Dusseault at Green Dot, et al
(partial):
Dierk Meierbachtol (OSPI) said hed been assured that Tacoma SC is not
purposefully calling charter school students regarding truancy.

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MANIPULATION OF ELECTED OFFICIALS OR GOVERNMENT STAFF

Nov. 19 Dave Powell at Stand for Children to Franta and Green Dot
But with the signature on transfer forms - we know the District staff are much
more open to charters than the Board. I can call Josh Garcia, whom I have a
good and candid relationship with and ask directly him directly (sic) about how
they would direct their staff on signing transfer forms, I feel like there is a way to
get the senior staff there to give a quiet go-ahead to their staff under the
boards (sic) radar and if the board gets wind of the signing of transfer
forms, there is a pretty easy answer back from the Supt that its(sic) biz as
Normal. Let me know if such a call is desired or helpful. Don't want to tip
people off either though.
To note, Josh Garcia is the Deputy Superintendent of Tacoma (he was awared
the "leader to learn from award by Education Week this year) and yet Mr. Powell
at Stand for Children believed he could persuade Mr. Garcia to direct Tacoma
School District staff to act under the boards (sic) radar AND figured out an out
for Mr. Garcia.
November 22nd e-mail from Rekha Bhatt of WA Charters to Jen Wickens of
Summit
AGO opinions that Spokane's attorney cited to show there's common law that
points to the need for an Inter-Local. OSPI is saying they recommend interlocal agreements, but the absence of one is not going to prevent them from
engaging in the ALE process between the charters and MWSD.
Bill Kiolbasa at WSCSA to Franta at WSCSA, Stand for Children, Green Dot:
I agree on coordinated effort, but I think this is a good start. The overall ALE
agreement may be a district issues, but if choice transfer forms are signed all the
time, and we have some mid-level allies who will do this, that would seem to
be simple cover"
Nov. 30
Maggie Meyers at WA Charters writes to Kevin Jacka at MWSD:

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First, we want to thank you again to your willingness to work with us and your
commitment to providing a quality, public education for all Washington students.
As this issue gains attention we wanted to provide you with a media response
plan in the likely event that press reach out to you directly. Our
recommendation is that Mary Walker decline any interviews and instead
provide a short statement. Our team can handle any further questions.

WASHINGTON STATE CHARTER SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION


(WA CHARTERS)
The WSCSA is a major player in this ongoing saga for charter schools in
Washington State. WSCSA is funded mostly by the Gates Foundation (which
funded the charter school initiative and is a major funder for Green Dot). WA
Charters is a private non-profit and yet it seems to have been dictating to charters
schools and OSPI and Mary Walker School District. On its board sit major
corporate education reformers in this state including Democrats for Education
Reform (DFER), League of Education Voters (LEV) and the Washington
Roundtable.
WA Charters was the nexus for both the effort to save these charter schools as
well as figuring out what the students would be doing since their charter schools
were now defunct under the Supreme Court ruling.
OSPI e-mails reveal that OSPI staff worried about the role of WA Charters in the
revision of the role of charter schools re: their students and staff wondered aloud
what the State Auditor might think.
E-mail from Bill Kiolbasa from WA Charters to other charter school leaders,
detailing a time line that includes what WA Charters will be doing:
-

12/11 5 pm.- WA Charters will share the MWSD reviewed draft version of
the contract with schools.
12/16 WA Charters will discuss open items with MWSD and MWSD
counsel
12/18 WA charters and MWSD will share finalized contracts with schools
and OSPI

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Rekha Bhatt, their Director of School Service said, in a December 21, 2015 email to OSPIs ALE Program Manager, Lillian Hunter:
It might be best for Cathy and I to connect with Lillian directly to tag-team and
coordinate future trainings and topics. Let me know if this works on your end.
"Cathy" is Cathy Frommer, a former Charter Commissioner (like MWSD's
superintendent, Kevin Jacka who hired Frommer to manage some of the charter
student work for MWSD.)

Early December e-mail from OSPI's ALE Program Manager, Lillian Hunter:
Hello All:
Thank you for the follow up Sue. I wanted confirmation that the follow up
activities for these new schools are approved and orchestrated by the
public school district and not by the Charter School Association. This is a
unique situation and our actions will be likely be subject to future scrutiny.
As such, we need to exercise due diligence as these former charter
schools are transitioned into the public school arena.
Then, on December 21st, she writes to Sue Isaacs at MWSD:
Hi Sue,
I'm mildly concerned that the Charter School Association is leading the
training on ALE compliance. Were you aware of this? Is Mike Jennings no
longer helping you? The powerpoint presentation was worrisome - hugely
overwhelming with possible misinformation.
As I stated below, I am happy to assist the Mary Walker SD as you absorb these
students into the public school system. I'm concerned about mixed messaging
with regard to compliance in the ALE setting with the Charter School
Association stepping in to conduct training. Is this part of your agreement
with them?
21

Please advise.
The training referenced in the e-mail was about was creating the written student
learning plans for each ALE student. I find this quite confusing because why
would MWSD look to a private non-profit rather than OSPI for this kind of
training?

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WASHINGTON STATE CHARTER COMMISSION


September 12, e-mail from Mitch Price at WA Charters
The other looming question is whether the Commission will consider it a breach
of contract to shift to another designation. Yesterday I ran into Josh and he
told me that he and Eileen (Aileen) were "looking into it" but considering saying
we breach our batter contract if we go homeschool and removing our charter
status if families apply. My assumption is applying for private school or ALE
would warrant the same response of homeschool does, given homeschool is the
lowest level of breach.'
This issue has never been publicly addressed. Would charter schools be in
breach of contract with the Washington State Charter Commission because
they were now providing services to students in a manner different than
described in the contracts that were signed?
The Commission was preparing to wind-down if charter schools were closed.
-

"Work includes" review of compliance with Public Records Act

Review of student transfers and exits

Review of disposition of Assets upon termination or dissolution

That Public Records Act is important because not only did multiple charter
schools try to refuse me access to public records (saying they were no longer
charter schools), they also tried to put off Representative Gerry Pollet.

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ON McCLEARY
Not a single time during the regular session did any charter school or group plead
with legislators about fully funding McCleary. There was no op-ed or ads by
these groups either.
This as thousands of PTA parents across the state either visited Olympia or
contacted their own legislators to ask for McCleary to be fulfilled.
If charter schools continue on, when McCleary IS fulfilled, they will benefit.
A tweet from Rep Chris Reykdal:
"68 tweets tagging me to support charter schools. Not one of them calls for fully
funding our public schools. Sad!"
Rep Mike Sells, 38th Democratic LD:
What is not mentioned here, is the proponents literally disappearing when it
comes to full funding for the public schools. Despite their protestation during
the regular session that they believed that the funding should take place, they are
nowhere to be found or even commenting much on blogs other than bragging
about their coup. The 22 highly paid lobbyists brought in cleared the halls the
day after the vote and are nowhere to be seen on the funding of public
schools issue.
The bragging by proponents of spending on two six figure ad buys has not
translated over to helping the public schools. You know big money was being
spent when Strategies 360 lobbyists were outside the door plunking for a vote
along with the usual astroturf groups.

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