State superintendent of schools pushes lawmakers to change initiative



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Posted on February 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Superintendent for Public Instruction Randy Dorn has sent a letter to Olympia lawmakers suggesting they put voter-approved charter schools under his control, reversing part of I-1240 which passed in November. 

“I’ve been very clear on where I stood on this and where I thought it was unconstitutional,” Dorn explained. 

His main opposition to the initiative prior to the election focused on supervision of the charter schools, which puts oversight in the hands of a nine-member panel.

Changing a voter-approved initiative takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate.

“Nobody’s taken me up on (the letter), so I believe we’ll go forward with the court challenge,” Dorn said.

The letter disappointed some local district and teachers union officials, many of whom expected Dorn’s Office of Public Instruction to take the lead on taking I-1240 to court.

Supporters of I-1240 were upset as well.  Partnership 4 Learning said a voter-approved initiative should not be changed after the fact.

Dorn said nothing has changed.

“I felt that you had to try to force the issue into the legislature,” Dorn explained. “My issue is still, going forward, I’m responsible for overseeing all public schools.”

Across the country, roughly half the charter school states have state oversight.  A coalition of union and district leaders are expected to challenge the initiative in court on their own.  Dorn did not rule out joining a legal fight in the future.