Montana is the most recent state to enact a law allowing community choice schools, also known as charter schools. However, shortly after HB 562 was enacted into law in the 2023 legislative session, charter school opponents filed suit to stop these innovative public schools from opening. In response, charter school supporters, led by Representative Jonathan Windy Boy, Special Education Teacher and Administrator Kasey Koehler, and Tribal College Professor and Researcher Connie Filesteel, filed a motion to intervene.
Todd Ziebarth (Senior Vice President, State Advocacy and Support at The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools) released the following statement:
“The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is pleased that Montana advocates for K-12 public education choice have been officially named as intervenors in the suit filed against HB 562.
“We are especially grateful to Representative Jonathan Windy Boy, Special Education Teacher and Administrator Kasey Koehler, and Professor and Researcher Connie Filesteel for their leadership in fighting for education options that are free, public, and open to all for families and students in Montana.”
- Representative Windy Boy is a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, a servant on the Tribal Council, and the representative for District 32 in the Montana House of Representatives. He has long supported public charter schools as he has seen that the one-size-fits-all approach to public education fails many students and parents in his community, especially high needs students.
- Ms. Koehler is a nationally-recognized special education teacher, school administrator, and prospective founder of a Community Choice School in Miles City. With more than 20 years of experience in the public school system, like Representative Windy Boy, she supports choices in public education to better serve students with different and special needs.
- Ms. Filesteel is an enrolled citizen of the Aaniiih Nation. She has more than 18 years of experience as a professor, researcher, and administrator in both tribal and parochial public K-12 schools and colleges in Montana. Ms. Filesteel says that the traditional public school system places students “at risk of becoming disengaged, frustrated, and not meeting their academic potential or even dropping out.” She is a supporter of high-quality, public education options in Montana, especially for American Indian students.
“The National Alliance stands with families and educators in Montana. We will continue to advocate for students’ access to high-quality, public education options and support Representative Windy Boy, Ms. Koehler, and Ms. Filesteel.”