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Bill to Restore Washington's Charter School Law Faces Uncertainty

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A bill to restore Washington state's charter school law failed to get out of a legislative committee Thursday, putting supporters of the state's fledging charter movement on edge.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, pulled the bill from the voting list because she was waiting on a report from a work group on whether the measure passes constitutional muster, according to the Associated Press.

Some lawmakers are saying the effort is not dead yet, but there are only 15 days left in the legislative session this year. Charter advocates are worried.

"The urgency to act to fix this mess has never been greater," Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, said in a statement. "The legislature is directly responsible for keeping these schools open."

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled charter schools unconstitutional in September in part because they are governed by appointed boards instead of voter-elected boards and are therefore ineligible for the state funding they were getting.

Senate Bill 6194, which passed the Senate early in the legislative session, aims to remedy that by creating a new funding source for charters.

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