A charter school advocacy group has filed a federal lawsuit against D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt alleging that the city's government funds the two public school systems unequally.
In the lawsuit, the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools says that the city is violating the law that requires that traditional and charter schools be funded at the same level. Charter school advocates have complained for years that the D.C. government has violated that obligation.
"After more than a decade of trying every other means, through meetings, data and demonstrations and getting nowhere as a last resort, we’re asking the court if they’ll settle the law," says Ramona Edelin, director of DCACPS.
Forty-three percent of the city's 80,000 public school students attend charter schools.
Edelin says D.C. pays traditional schools based on estimates of the number of students they will enroll, rather than the actual number the system enrolls. Also, she says government agencies provide DCPS with free services, such as healthcare and security, that charter schools don’t always receive. And finally, she says DCPS also receives additional funding for operating expenses outside the per-pupil funding formula.
"By our count the amount of underfunding is $770 million since 2008, but we’re not asking that that money be paid, we’re simply saying, ‘Please settle the law,'" she says.
Two charter schools, Eagle Academy and Washington Latin, have joined the lawsuit.
Uniform Funding Complaint FINAL 7-30-14-1 by Martin Austermuhle