In a short, unanimous decision, the Washington Supreme Court held last month that the State had met all of the compliance requirements that it had articulated in its 2012 decision in McCleary v. State, that it had purged its contempt, and that the Court was now terminating its jurisdiction of the case.
Adopting a unique compliance process, the Court had decided in 2012 to allow the state the six years that a state task force said would be necessary to fully phase in the substantial funding increases and other reforms called for by the Court’s decision, but specified that each year the legislature must file a report documenting its progress toward meeting the implementation goals. Over the past few years, the Court had issued a number of orders that held that the state was not on target to meet the September 1, 2018 deadline, and in 2015, the Court found the State in contempt and ordered fines of $100,000 per day until a satisfactory plan for fully meeting compliance requirements was adopted.
In 2017, the Court found that the legislature had met the basic requirements of the order, except that it had delayed complete implementation of a new model for full state funding of increased teacher salaries until the 2019-20 school year, a year after the Court’s September 2018 deadline. In its past session, the legislature met the court’s final requirement by enacting measures designed to fully implement the new salary allocation model by the 2018-19 school. The approximately $105 million in contempt penalties that had accumulated over the past few years were set aside in a special fund to support basic education.