Washington state’s Supreme Court will determine whether charter schools will be allowed in the state. A hearing is scheduled in October.

The charter school law, approved by Washington state voters in 2012, allows for about 40 charter schools to open during the next five years. This fall, the private school First Place will be the first to serve students as a charter school. It already serves families in extreme poverty by offering  counseling, housing, advocacy and access to other resources.

If First Place can operate as a charter school, it could serve more students. A coalition of plaintiffs has sued the state of Washington, hoping to disallow schools such as First Place.

Seven other charter schools have been authorized and are expected to open in the fall 2015. All eight schools are geared toward underserved students who struggle in traditional schools, said Lisa Mcfarlane, spokesperson for Washington Charter Schools Association. The state’s charter law gives priority to schools serving at-risk students, she said.

In 2013, a coalition including the Washington Education Association, the League of Women Voters, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and a few individuals sued the state in an attempt to overturn the charter-school law.

“We welcome that review,” Mcfarlane said, “because we’re confident the law will pass constitutional muster.” A trial court decision in Decemberupheld the substance of the law, knocking out one provision pertaining to construction funding, though none of the prospective charter school administrators had planned to use the construction funding.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not return calls for comment.
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