Washington Charter School Initiative, Initiative 1240 (2012)

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Initiative 1240
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Type:Initiative to the People
Referred by:Coalition
The Washington Charter School Initiative, also known as Initiative 1240, was on the November 6, 2012 statewide ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was approved. The measure allowed 40 public charter schools in the state over the next five years. The group that was in favor of the measure, and who submitted the initiative, was a coalition that included the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform.[1]

Charter schools are public schools that independently operate away from local school districts. They are run by a performance contract that requires valid proof of academic improvement within that school. According to reports, Washington was one of eight states that did not have charter schools at the time.

Washington voters rejected previous charter school initiatives in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

See also: Charter schools in Washington


Two months after the election took place, The Washington State Board of Education began the process of drafting rules for the establishment and operation charter schools in the state. The board took advice from an outside expert in charter school authorization, and had planned to hear public comments on the draft rules during the month of January 2013. According to reports, the board hoped to adopt rules during February 2013.[2]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results:

Washington Initiative 1240
Approveda Yes 1,525,807 50.69%

Election results via Washington Secretary of State's website.

Text of measure


The summary of the measure reads as follows:

AN ACT Relating to public charter schools; amending RCW 28A.150.010, 28A.315.005, and 41.05.011; adding a new section to chapter 41.32 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 41.35 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 41.40 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 41.56 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 41.59 RCW; and adding a new chapter to Title 28A RCW.[3]


The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure. Supporters include:


  • According to Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, a group that supported the measure, "Charter schools haven't been on the ballot in eight years, and in terms of public policy and politics, eight years is a really long time."[4]


The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure. Opponents include:

  • No on 1240 (main opposition)
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn stated, "I believe the initiative is flawed because it goes around the constitution. I do not believe the superintendent of public instruction would have a role in the constituting of a charter school or decommissioning of a charter school."[5]

Media endorsements

Endorsements of Washington ballot measures, 2012
  • The News Tribune of Tacoma stated, "The most important reforms can be achieved without charter schools – but charters are an indicator that education leaders are willing to do whatever it takes, willing to pull every lever within reach. A state that forbids the opening of even a single one is a state that’s way too comfortable with an intolerable status quo."[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Washington signature requirements

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to submit a minimum of 241,153 valid signatures by July 6, 2012.

When contacted by Ballotpedia, the Washington Secretary of State's office stated that the measure had turned in enough signatures for it to be placed on the ballot.

It was reported by the Seattle Times that Bill Gates had funded the initiative drive and the drive spent nearly $6 a signature to paid signature gatherers.

See also

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