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National Advocacy Group Launches Charter School Legal Defense Fund

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The nation's largest charter advocacy group has launched a legal action and defense fund. 

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools describes its new Charter School Legal Defense Fund as a "watchdog and resource" that will help defend charters in lawsuits and further charter causes through litigation.

Although charter schools have made significant inroads across the country in the last 25 years through legislation—43 states and the District of Columbia now allow for charter schools to operate—the alliance said in a statement released earlier this month that it now needs to focus more attention on the judicial branch.

One recent high-profile loss for advocates happened last year when Washington state's supreme court ruled the state's charter law was unconstitutional based largely on how charter schools were funded.

The lawsuit was backed by a coalition of groups including the Washington Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union. 

Charter advocates, including NAPCS, helped revive the law through new legislation, which lawmakers passed earlier this year, to address some of the issues raised by the supreme court.

But the rewritten law was promptly challenged by a group of parents backed by several organizations including the WEA.

The legal fight over the constitutionality of charter school funding in Washington state may have inspired a separate lawsuit in Mississippi led by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Like Washington state, Mississippi is another recent comer to the charter sector.

As its first action, the Charter School Legal Defense Fund filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court last week backing the petitioner, a child with autism, in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District— a case that will have significant impact on federal special education law

It jointly filed the brief with the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools.

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