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The Mary Walker School District (MWSD) has rescinded their request for approval of charter schools in the City of Seattle after requests were made twice, first by The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and then by MWSD, for the school district to recognize the charter schools and thereby providing legitimacy to the schools.
In two memos made public yesterday in the Seattle School Board Executive Committee meeting, it is clear that the Seattle Public School district (SPS) has no intention of breaking the law.
This first email is from Kenneth Gotsch, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance at Seattle Public Schools (SPS), to JoLynn Berge, Chief Financial Officer at OSPI sent on December 8,2015:
From: Gotsch, Kenneth C
Sent: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 3:59 PM
To: JoLynn Berge <JoLynn.Berge@k12.wa.us>
Cc: Nyland, Larry L <firstname.lastname@example.org>; … Tolley, Michael F <email@example.com>; …
Subject: RE: Choice forms for charters converting to ALEs
Thank you for contacting me about OSPI’s willingness to process choice forms for students (detail in OSPI Memorandum No. 072-15M; dated December 3, 2015) who want to move from a charter school to an Alternative Learning experience school (ALE) operated by another school district. After talking with the Seattle Public Schools Superintendent and with other senior staff, Seattle Public Schools does not want OSPI to initiate choice forms for charter students who are residents in the City of Seattle. At this time, we will continue to follow our existing Policies (Policy No. 3130 Student Assignment and Enrollment, Policy No. 3140 Release of Resident Students) and Procedures (Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment 3130SP – see pg 59 of the document) for the release of any resident student wishing to attend another school district, including programs in the Mary Walker School District. By consistently applying our current Policies and Procedures, our District can ensure equity and proper processes to all resident families.
In addition, I want to let you know that Seattle Public Schools will object to any physical program placement in the City of Seattle without prior School Board authorization.
Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance
And then on December 17, 2015 an email from SPS Superintendent Nyland to Kenneth Jacka, Superintendent of MWSD:
Nyland, Larry L
Cc: SchoolBoard; Gotsch, Kenneth C
Thursday, December 17, 2015 8:07 AM
Seattle Public Schools stands ready to work with our charter schools to reabsorb students back into Seattle Schools.
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).
Given the fact that you don’t intend to serve Seattle students directly through Mary Walker (e.g.: on line learning) and given the fact that you do not have an inter-local with Seattle Schools to operate a school within our district, we will have to consider the legal implications of whether or not it is legal for you to serve students in Seattle.
You are welcome to send an inter-local for our review. I am quite confident that Seattle will not be entering into an inter-local with you to serve Seattle Schools students within the boundaries of Seattle Public Schools via a charter school.
Our board has reviewed the charter school provisions and determined that we did not wish to become an authorizer: In essence that is what you are asking us to do – Authorize Mary Walker to authorize the charters in Seattle to serve students in Seattle Public Schools.
– Larry Nyland, Superintendent
Bravo to our Superintendent, the Seattle School Board and others who were not swayed and understood that the law is to be adhered to.
For background on this issue, see The charter school shell game in Washington State: Money laundering at its best (or worst?) by way of OSPI.