The Arc of King County's amicus brief
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Children’s Advocates Urge Supreme Court too Protect the Education Rights of Children with Disabilities
OLYMPIA, WA (September 1, 2017) – The Legislature still is not paying the true costs of educating 130,000 students with disabilities in Washington, The Arc of King County and other advocacy groups said in a “friend of the court” brief filed today in the landmark case of McCleary v State of Washington.
Advocates joining in the brief include The Arc of Washington State, Teamchild, Seattle Special Education PTA, Bellevue Special Needs PTA, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, and Open Doors for Multicultural Families. Three individuals also signed on, including state Rep. Gerry Pollet of North Seattle.
“By excluding children with disabilities from reforms, the state is denying a particularly vulnerable group of children the opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills needed for college, employment and citizenship,” the advocacy coalition’s brief says, adding, “This continued underfunding of special education, a component of basic education, is unconstitutional.”
The advocates are asking the Washington Supreme Court to reject the Legislature’s claim that basic education is now fully funded for all children, and to hold that “the state’s work is not done.”
The Supreme Court has been imposing sanctions of $100,000 a day against the state until it demonstrates compliance with the constitutional duty to amply fund education for all children in Washington.
The state is asking for sanctions to end based on funding increases approved in the 2017 legislative session. But an analysis by The Arc of King County found that due to a funding cap, about 2,000 students with disabilities in 90 school districts will receive no state money at all for special education. Also, the 2017 legislation failed to close a $266 million annual gap in statewide funding for special education.
“No child can be excluded from the promise of a meaningful diploma in Washington,” said Stacy Gillett, executive director of The Arc of King County, a non-profit organization dedicated to full inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in society. “Children with disabilities may not be left out of reforms.”
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
Stacy Gillett, Executive Director, The Arc of King County, email@example.com
Sue Elliott, Executive Director, The Arc of Washington State, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine George, attorney, Johnston George LLP, email@example.com