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Extension sought from court for work on education

The state Supreme Court is trying to compel lawmakers to comply with its 2012 McCleary mandate to fully fund education. Credit: Cacophony/Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is asking the state Supreme Court to allow the Legislature an extension for turning in its homework.

The Attorney General’s Office sent a memo to the Washington Supreme Court Monday to say that the Legislature has not yet passed bills to comply with a 2012 court ruling that the state must dramatically reduce teacher-student ratios in Grades K-3. The order also requires setting up a good system to make sure those obligations are permanently met.

The court gave the Legislature until the end of the 2015 session to have a plan in place to comply with the 2012 ruling. Since 2013, the Legislature has been dragging its feet on meeting that obligation. The court has threatened yet-to-be-determined sanctions against the Legislature if the plan is not in place by the end of the session.

The Legislature’s original deadline to meet those obligations was Friday, when it ended the regular session. However, the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House are significantly split on how the court-ordered improvements should be funded. Several education-funding competing bills are currently the topics of behind-the-scenes negotiations in preparation for a 30-day special session beginning Wednesday.

The attorney general’s memo contends: “The court should defer reconvening to consider whether the state has purged contempt and whether to impose sanctions or other remedial measure until the Legislature has concluded its business for 2015.” That could well stretch into late June.

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