School district invests in lawsuits

Lawsuits against the state have been lucrative for the Federal Way School District so far.

The district currently is involved in two lawsuits against the State of Washington: One for special education funding and one for fair funding. State funding has improved as a result of those lawsuits, netting the district an additional $4.6 million over four years. The district has spent $700,000 on litigation costs in the two lawsuits.

“Not a bad return on investment,” said Sally McLean, Federal Way School District chief financial officer.

The cases are currently in appeals and the district hopes to receive additional funding after they are decided.

“While we’ve made some progress, the problem hasn’t been completely solved,” McLean said. “We’re still far away from full resolution.”

The Federal Way School Board is considering joining a third lawsuit, headed by the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS). The lawsuit was filed in January 2007, and a trial is scheduled for next year.

Nearly 50 organizations, including 17 school districts, are currently involved with the lawsuit.

NEWS lawsuit organizers aim to achieve ample funding for kindergarten through 12th grade public education. Currently, school districts throughout the state are faced with budget shortfalls and are considering cuts to programs and staff. Lawsuit organizers hope to compel the state to provide ample funding for education, as required by the Washington State Constitution.

The cost for Federal Way to participate in the NEWS lawsuit is estimated to be $30,000.

The Federal Way School Board will take public comment on the NEWS lawsuit at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 in Federal Way City Hall Council Chambers, 33325 8th Ave. S.

For more information about the NEWS lawsuit, visit

Contact Margo Hoffman: or (253) 925-5565.

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