Parents scramble for answers in wake of Supreme Court charter ruling

Access to High-Quality Schools | 09/05/2015

Eric Shellan
National Digital Manager

Twenty-four hours ago, Jessica Garcia’s son and daughter began to cry. She had just hung up the phone with her friend, Danielle, who had delivered the bad news. She was speechless, betrayed, lost.

Hours earlier, the Washington State Supreme Court had ruled that her child’s school—Destiny Charter Middle School in Tacoma—was unconstitutional.

School had been in session for three weeks.

“I felt stabbed. I felt let down,” Jessica said. “It just felt like the bottom dropped out from underneath me.”

As Jessica reached out to hold her crying children, she began to cry, too.

It was the Friday before Labor Day weekend and—with one phone call—everything she knew for certain had been thrown into peril. In all, 9 public charter schools were impacted by the ruling, throwing 1200 families into chaos. What happens now?

That’s when she decided to pick the phone back up again and start making calls.

She found the Chief Justice’s phone number online and left a message. She called the Mayor of Tacoma. She called friends, parents, family members, her own mother, who, in turn, all started making calls as well.

My birthday is on Monday and I don’t even know if the Capitol is open then, but I would love nothing more than to march down there and yell at the top of my lungs.

On Saturday morning, she made more calls, this time to her fellow parents at Destiny. The school leaders had made it clear that, come Tuesday, their doors would stay open, and Jessica had volunteered to get the word out.

“I was calling to reassure parents that their kids still have a safe space to learn. That’s what they need to hear right now.”

But the calls were heartbreaking to make. The parents who picked up the phone were scrambling for answers. “What can we do?” They asked, confused and worried but determined to do something.

Many thought back to why they had enrolled their children at Destiny in the first place.

One mother told Jessica that this is the first time her children were excited to go to school. Another said she finally felt like she “had her daughter back again.”

For many of the families, Destiny and the other schools had given them hope again, allowing them to reconnect in ways they didn’t know were still possible.

But it was impractical not to think beyond Tuesday and what would happen to her daughter, Isadora, and the other students. Still, she has to strike a balance.

“I plan on keeping things as normal as possible for her,” Jessica said of her daughter, who is in 6th grade. “But I’m still fighting. Not just for my daughter, but for the other children, too.”

“My birthday is on Monday and I don’t even know if the Capitol is open then, but I would love nothing more than to march down there and yell at the top of my lungs.”


You can read Stand for Children's statement on the court ruling here.

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  • The article states no reason why the judge ruled this way and why the judge is wrong! Why would I join a fight against the state constitution when we already have processed in place for that? Complaining doesn't create change, action does. Start an initiative, get the backing of the people. Just calling around and complaining won't get anything done and turn those against you that you need the support of. Just my two cents.
    David in Sammamish

    September 5, 2015 5:23 PM

  • Am am one of thousands of parents who think this ruling is UNJUST! and I don't even have my kidskin a charter school but I believe wholeheartedly in their right to exist. Washington, why are you SO backward when it comes to education???!! Frustrated!!!
    Jenny Rhodes

    September 5, 2015 5:41 PM

  • Sorry folks the WA Supreme court ruling was correct. Other options are available for every child. Attend local school Attend online school No real scrambling necessary for any family.
    Raymond Smith

    September 5, 2015 6:01 PM

  • What is wrong with public school?

    September 5, 2015 6:32 PM

  • Many children do better in a smaller school, where they get more one on one help from teachers. The school rooms are usually not as crowded, and also the kids who do not fit in are not bullied in a Charter School. This ruling is not fair.
    Diana Grazia

    September 7, 2015 3:58 AM

  • I voted against this. Sorry but it's actually unconstitutional for your kids.
    Samantha Hill Burhop

    September 5, 2015 6:37 PM

  • I have had the pleasure of knowing the Garcia family as fellow Tacomans since Isadora was going into first grade. This is a vibrant, active, intelligent family who have always put the well-being and dynamic education of their children first. This is a fight worth joining, these are schools worth saving. What can we do?

    September 5, 2015 7:03 PM

  • Hi Jade! OMG! Thank you so much for your support and kind words! Truly means a lot. You can help support by signing the petition via #saveWAcharterschools . Thank you again for your support & kindness!
    Jessica Garcia

    September 8, 2015 10:54 PM

  • Dearest Jessica and family, You have rights as an American and as a parent in Washington, yet like so many others have found the public schools a challenge to give your children the education they require and deserve. As a homeschool mom of 11 years, I also found the public school not giving my child, (then all 3) the education they deserve, at first due to learning differences (dyslexia and energy). I would not have done ANYTHING different if I had to do it all again. My young men are all succeeding and yes we sacrificed an always organized and clean home for quality education and quality time together. They all have played sports, 2 have Eagle Scouts, succeeded in piano, choir, saxaphone, percussion, drama, youth group at our church, community service and can communicate better than others their same age. I encourage you to not give up or in! If you can and have determination, look in to homeschool curriculum through Abeka, Bob Jones, or other top creators of homeschool material. Co-ops are even available or Parent Partnerships (funded by the state) in your school district or other school districts. Yet, even these have been defunded from 9th to 12th grade. You have a voice and now a mission for your children and many others. Please be the light for many families around you and after you! Yet most importantly, be positive and avoid negetivity. Our children will become like the emotions they see, either succeeding or complaining. I pray your family chooses to read often and live Phillipians 4:6-9. If you don't know Jesus or understand God's Word, this could be the beginning of God drawing you closer to him and rescuing one of his sheep! I once was! Blessing you and your family as you do not stay quiet and comply. This is exactly what our government wants, quiet compliance. And may the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. In Christ, Susanne Brell-Bartz
    Susanne Brell-Bartz

    September 5, 2015 10:03 PM

  • Thank you so much for your support! I will very much continue fighting. Moving with purpose, kindness, understanding, while remaining positive for a favorable outcome. This is not just for my child, but for all the families wanting another choice here in WA. Thank you again for your support. & prayers. Please join us @: #saveWAcharterschools
    Jessica Garcia

    September 8, 2015 11:02 PM


    September 6, 2015 1:06 AM

  • Thank you Lynne for your kind words & birthday wish. There was no better way to celebrate than standing up for our charter school kids. Which is exactly how I spent the day...getting the word out on why these schools are desperately needed. Please continue supporting by joining #saveWAcharterschools Many thanks again for your well wishes & blessings. :)
    Jessica Garcia

    September 8, 2015 11:10 PM

  • I don't know what the issues were in the court case but I think that Charter schools are a good idea and I am sorry to hear that they've been prohibited by the State Supreme Court. Court members this is not one of your best moves.

    September 6, 2015 1:44 AM

  • Recently I saw part of a program on Channel 9 that indicated that the way Charter Schools keep their test scores so high is that they get rid of any student with a problem(s). If that is true, in my opinion, Charter Schools should be shut down,
    John Greer

    September 6, 2015 6:40 AM

  • That ruling from the Supreme Court is just wrong! I had to take my daughter out of public school when she was in the 4th grade and put her into private school because she was being bullied and had to fight to defend herself. The school just told me to "call the police"! This was while she was at school!! The constitution gives our children the right to an education, but where those children are educated should still remain up to the parents, especially since our public school system continually fails to keep our children safe!
    Donna Harlan

    September 6, 2015 8:52 AM

  • If you do, I'll be with you. Keep me posted.
    Brenda Cave

    September 6, 2015 10:02 AM

  • Washington voters voted 3 years ago to bring in charter schools. If it was unconstitutional, it should have been addressed at the time of the vote or shortly thereafter. It takes 18 months to 2 years to launch a new charter school. At any time, that is when the kinks of this law should have been worked out. Destiny was allowed to proceed with recruiting and starting an awesome school. We have been in session for 3 weeks and my son, Joshua, loves it. We the parents will rally together and fight to keep our school open. Thank you Destiny Charter Middle School. We love being part of your charter school family.
    Michelle H.

    September 6, 2015 3:04 PM

  • Hello, Thank you all for reading this post, it means a lot just to know you've looked. Just a bit of continued background on why this is such an important choice for my family...this is hard to write about, so please bare with me... During our eldest autistic child's schooling years, beginning in the 4th grade & continuing on through to middle school, he was bullied relentlessly...years of it. To the point of culminating with a busted nose, broken teeth, glasses, and a fractured cheekbone...resulting in suicidal thoughts, failing grades, & leaving a scar on our entire family. I had asked the local school district for help many times over this time period...nothing came of it. Even took a job in the school to try & help on that front...again nothing. Tried to get him placed in other schools throughout our district...was told there was no room. This left us having to sign over educational guardianship to my mother in Puyallup, just so he had a safe place to learn...Imagine having to make this decision. We looked into private school...but private schools do not take children with special needs if they require services. Homeschool was not an option at the there was our choice. Forced out of our existing district. So when the time came for Isadora to attend middle school, of course I wanted a different option. Our family still carries these scars of what our son went through...he does as well mentally and physically. Honestly, this is the first time I haven't been full of anxiety when my child goes to school for the day. I feel hopeful for her school experience...that she will be safe & have a quality education I feel she deserves. You can't put a price on hope. Please understand, that I have had many a great teacher in our lives, absolutely. I want all public school children to have a safe place to learn...but more importantly to have a choice in their education. Public school children should have the right to choose options...same as those who may be better off & have the freedom to choose without restrictions...that's all that is desired here. The right to have choice. Some children do better in a traditional public school setting, some in home school, some in private, others in online schooling...and yes, some do better in public charters. Thank you for reading Jess :)
    Jessica Garcia

    September 8, 2015 10:40 AM

  • Why are charter school families"scrambling "? Enroll in your local public school!
    Sue G

    September 8, 2015 4:13 PM