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UPDATE: LASD Accepts Bullis Decision

Los Altos School District's president expressed disappointment but says the district will use the court-defined methodology in allocating space to Bullis Charter School. The state school boards association predicts more confusion as other districts try to

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the comments from the general counsel of the California School Boards Association, which Patch had tried to reach Thursday.

The Prop. 39 court fight ends here, it would appear. At least in Los Altos.

A day after the state Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal, the president of the Los Altos School District board (LASD) announced it was turning its attention to offering facilities to Bullis Charter School under the terms of the lower court's decision—and was ready to move past the decade-old dispute between school boards.

"We can now move forward with a court-defined methodology for allocating facilities," said board President Mark Goines in a press release.

"We are hoping to find a balance that appeals to the BCS families, balances the needs of all 5,000-plus students in the district and insures the continued success of our high-performing schools," he added, in an email interview later Thursday afternoon.

The California Sixth District Court of Appeal stunned the board in an Oct. 27 decision that overturned a lower court's opinion that the school board had fulfilled the requirement to offer "reasonably equivalent" space under charter school laws and regulations known as Prop. 39. 

In December, LASD petitioned the state Supreme Court to reviwew the Sixth District's decision.

“Although the California Supreme Court typically accepts less than 10 percent of all petitions filed, we were nonetheless disappointed to learn that the Supreme Court had decided not to take the case,” Goines said in the statement.

The rejection of LASD's appeal will have impact statewide. Across the state, charter schools and their host school districts are negotiating over facilities allocation and preliminary offers are due at the end of the month. The California School Boards Association filed a friend-of-the-court letter in support of the Los Altos School Board's petition for Supreme Court review.

Keith J. Bray, general counsel of the CSBA, said the organization had hoped that the Supreme Court would take the case because there may be confusion, still, when disputes over facilities allocations arise in the state. "There are three or four state court of appeal decisions that are not harmonizing," he said. He predicted there will be more litigation in the state in the future.

Goines said the board was grateful that the petition was supported by the school boards association "which has expressed concern over the potential statewide implications of the decision arising from the dispute between LASD and BCS.”

LASD School Superintendent Jeff Baier said that the board, anticipating the possibility that the high court would not hear the case, had already begun work using the court-defined methodology.

Goines said the district is preparing an offer "with a revised methodology that will be discussed in public session and approved in a preliminary offer prior to February 1, 2012."

“With this dispute coming to a close, we look forward to continuing our commitment to providing the opportunity for an outstanding education for all of the students residing within the LASD boundaries,” Baier said.

Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 12:16 AM
The current case between LASD and BCS ended yesterday. Score one for the BCS super-lawyers. The case between Los Altos and Hills parents and BCS started just a few short weeks ago. We will try them in every "court" we possibly can. They won a legal victory today, but they have not won--and will never win--the moral one. http://bullischarterscam.org/
parent January 20, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I am most disappointed that the only comments are the rantings of a person who has lost touch with reality. I am tired of reading these kinds of hateful posts that don't lead to any productive or meaningful dialog. I know there are members of the community who have some thoughtful opinions on this matter and I would like to hear from them.
Alan January 20, 2012 at 04:49 AM
"The Supreme Court also denied a request to depublish the appellate opinion, meaning that charter schools across California can cite the landmark ruling when requesting equal access to facilities for public charter school students." Nice win BCS! This is a big win for ALL charter schools in California. It is also in my humble opinion that if you have a wait list as big as your enrollment then you should submit another charter petition as soon as you are ready. Time for BCS 2!
Ron Haley January 20, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Have to agree Alan. Any LASD plan to accommodate BCS should cater for multiple campuses. 30% of kindergartners entering LASD apply to to the Charter. That translates to in excess of 1500 students by the time they finish 8th grade.
Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 09:06 AM
Applications mean NOTHING: http://bullischarterscam.org/bullis_charter_facts.php#bcs_applications Next, we'll see how your enrollment looks after: 1. You are forced to comply with the law and allow less advantaged kids in your school, thus crushing your API scores. 2. After the community, for the first time ever, is educated about exactly what BCS is REALLY about. 3. The nationwide backlash against Charter schools (and boutique charters in particular) is in full swing. If anything, LASD should plan on BCS's existence being TEMPORARY.
Bill January 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Does BCS participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch program for socioeconomically disadvantaged students?
Audrey Crowley January 20, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Bill: No, BCS doesn't have many disadvantaged students - socioeconomically or otherwise. Much lower percentage than even the LASD population. This is one of the ways the school is not complying with the law.
Stacy January 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Audrey and Bill - BCS does not participate in the National School Lunch program, but it provides free lunch (and other assistance) directly to the families in need without the stigma of a child getting a "different" looking lunch. The school provides the information to the hot lunch provider (KidChow) and they set up an account where it's billed directly to the school. Sure - this doesn't show up in the statistics collected for the CDE database, but doesn't mean that BCS has no family in need. By the way, according to US Census data, there are 0.4% of kids (age 5 to 17) in the district below poverty level. Indeed, we all are very fortunate in this area.
Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
There's a potential problem of definitions here. The "below the poverty level" stat that is publicly available is NOT "a family who cannot afford BCS's tuition of $5000/year per child". Clearly THIS number will be a whole lot more than 0.4%--more like 95%. Clearly if BCS ever expanded significantly beyond its wink-and-a-nod imposed limits it would be in big trouble. If a lot of "undesirables" (the 90%) started going there, that "tuition" could well reach $10,000 or more. Moreover, the whole thing could snowball if more and more families claimed "poverty" and stuck the rest of the parents with the bill. So tell me current and prospective BCS parents, how does that make you feel? Maybe you can "just swing" the $5k/child but what about $10k? Not looking like the "discount private school" you once thought it was, is it?
Courtenay C. Corrigan January 20, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Joan, right? So you do realize of course that we are back to the same circle of arguments? What a shame. The reason BCS asks for any money is to make up for the shortfall in parcel tax dollars that are not shared equally. Perhaps that is our next battle? In the meantime, how many parents are so sick of all this mess they are considering private school? I bet the notion of vouchers might interest them. The money should follow the kid and parents should be able to choose what school they go to. Surely having control of our tax dollars and a say in where and how they are spent is an idea you can get behind...Or do you prefer to hand it over to a bureaucracy and let them choose who gets what and how?
Bill January 20, 2012 at 06:34 PM
being a numbers person, I'm just trying to figure out how a family that needs free lunch and other assistance is going to afford the "optional" $5k, or any amount for that matter. At what point does BCS have to say "enough", we cannot afford the free lunch program any longer due to the number of students requiring it. Then BCS would need to join the FRL program, no?
Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Actually we're on to a new one today, bringing up serious questions about BCS's long-term financial viability. The parcel taxes will not even remotely close the gap. Or maybe if they did "share" this with BCS, they can also pay their fair share of the rent on their facilities. Either way, its a wash. Another NEW front is the following: http://bullischarterscam.org/bullis_charter_site_log.php#bcs_buys_pols Yes, as you might expect, BCS operates in the "free market" by buying politicians. If anybody wonders why the Santa Clara County Board of Education would do this to us, the answer is... money. As for private school being an option, um, tell me again why YOU and your regime members chose to put your children in a war zone? Was it "better education" or was it... ego? Vouchers? Personally I'd need to research that some more... on the surface it sounds like a free-market approach to education but then again so did the Charter concept when I first heard it so I'd need to think through that one...
Courtenay C. Corrigan January 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Bill, you said it yourself..."optional." Just like LAEF, there are BCS families who cannot and do not donate to BPFoundation or donate at a level they can afford regardless of what we "ask." And since we are public it is a-ok. However, there are scores of parents who are happy to "invest" in their kids exceptional school and insure that it is the best that it can be. Beyond, there are those who also give way above the "ask" just to make sure no one "has" to. Moreover, unlike LAEF, we do not publish who gives and at what level so there is no judgement or even awareness on campus. We feel strongly that it binds our community without the socioeconomic stigma. I think it is part of the reason BCS finds the claim that we are all "billionaires" so funny. If it were only true!
Stacy January 20, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Are you equating not being able to make a charitable donation with living below poverty level? We live in an area where median house price is 1.5 million dollars so unless there is a massive fraud, there aren't very many kids(less than 50 in an area with 6000 school-aged kids, I would guess) who would qualify for FRSL....
Ron Haley January 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM
LASD appropriates approximately $4,500 per child annually from children attending BCS. If it wasn't for this, BCS wouldn't need to ask for any money, let alone $5K. Expect this to be the subject of the next lawsuit. BCS is one of the few charter schools with the financial resources to challenge this in the courts, so expect them to lead the way again. The LASD will live on forever in legal infamy as the slime-bag school district that lost the prop 39 case. It's transgressions will be cited over and over in prop 39 lawsuits and facilities offers.
Joan J. Strong January 20, 2012 at 11:41 PM
So there you have it folks: the NEXT LAWSUIT. Straight from the mouth of a prominent BCS supporter. Dear parents, District, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not EVER compromise with these awful people. The will NEVER stop suing our school district until they are G-O-N-E gone. The District should hold things off as long as possible using every loophole they can and for God Sakes do NOT cave in to the threats of lawsuits since THEY WILL SUE NO MATTER WHAT. That's what they do: they LIVE in court. They spit out anti-public school bile at every parent's night and tell their parents how to vote. They buy politicians, lie to our citizens and threaten anybody who speaks out against them with lawsuits. They are a scourge to our two towns. They are the textbook definition to evil. Please, please PLEASE tell your friends to get online and read what is happening here. Thank you.
Ron Haley January 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM
When you start following the law, the lawsuits will cease!
Courtenay C. Corrigan January 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Joan, right? "Buying" politicians? How about you add a list of all the donors to the current LASD Trustees to your website? I know you want to be fully transparent, after all. I am willing to bet that it would quickly show the current trustees are "owned" outright by the LASD parents and Teacher's Union. And, I am even more sure, the Trustees would really appreciate your inference that donations to their campaigns were actually an attempt to be "bought." At what point are the LASD trustees, LAEF, PTA and other community leadership in this mess going to begin to distance themselves from this guy? Denounce his material, his rants and get yourself de-coupled otherwise, risk being associated as one...
Sam January 21, 2012 at 04:06 AM
For a good explanation of why the parcel tax can not be shared with BCS, see here: http://lasdobserver.blogspot.com/2011/05/final-thoughts-on-parcel-tax-and-bcs.html. Basically, BCS is charted by the County, not LASD. As such, BCS is a separate legal entity without oversight from the Los Altos school district. Therefore LASD can not divert the parcel tax revenue to them. By the way, there is no known legal precedence, as Doug Smith points out, of 'a charter school that is NOT sponsored by their district that still shares parcel tax money'.
Joan J. Strong January 21, 2012 at 06:02 AM
Funny, I keep wondering when the BCS public relations machine is going to pull the plug on YOU (and Ron). You are fanning the flames on a daily basis by (simply) letting us know your true selves. You're asking LASD to denounce ME... but YOU just called THEM, "slime-bags" and vowed to sue them AGAIN* all over... But I'm sure they'll understand, as will the community. By all means, keep talking... * (Please see the most recent Minutes of the Board of Directors of BCS wherein they talk about "2 cases" of anticipated future litigation. Could one of these be the NEW case against LASD? I guess we'll find out soon enough).
Joan J. Strong January 21, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Thanks, Sam. I just forwarded that to the Messages section of the BullisCharterScam.org website. Hopefully we'll see an entry in there for this Q/A so we don't have to type this explanation over and over again...
Courtenay C. Corrigan January 21, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Joan, right? Uh, you better let Doug know you are using his quotes as he is one of the only Trustees to denounce your site several days ago. And for the record, I am not threatening to sue anyone nor am I a leader, board member, consultant or otherwise at BCS or our Foundation. About the only authortative job I have there is directing traffic in miniscule parking lot one morning a week. However, I am a parent there and donate freely my time and money to making sure BCS is terrific. Personally, I am quite outspoken and generally an extravert but I NEVER posted anything on behalf of BCS's board or leadership. If you knew me, you would know I am highly independent. I am guessing, much like yourself, only not so full of malice and envy.
Joan J. Strong January 21, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I'm not saying either you or Ron are "deciding" any of these things. That's up to your billionaire masters on the BCS board. You are, however, two tapped-in BCS supporters who are letting us all know what to expect from BCS, and letting us know the general attitude on the inside. For that we thank you.
Joan J. Strong January 21, 2012 at 06:42 PM
For another view on this situation, I direct readers to the works of Diane Ravitch ( http://dianeravitch.com/ ). Diane's story is very compelling. As an Assistant Secretary of Education under G. H. Bush, she was a strong early advocate of Charter schools. After seeing, first hand, the failure of this model, she has become one of the leading advocates AGAINST charters. I personally have a tremendous amount of respect for somebody so bought into a belief system and then, seeing reality contradict those views, publicly acknowledge it and advocate the correction. Charter schools, in short, have lost their backing from deep educational thinkers. While there is still some support from some Democrats and even, timidly, from President Obama, that entire conversation is arguably in flux. Now that the Charter concept has been taken up by Fox News, Republicans, and (yes, Google it) the KKK, real education advocates are suspicious. The term "charter school" is now becoming synonymous with "non-union school". Charters, in short, break teacher's unions. Teacher's unions, recall, are the #1 source of funding for the Democrats. Today's "win-at-all-costs" Republicans (decidedly NOT the Republicans I grew up with) are seeing Charters as a way to attack their enemy's supply lines. I don't suspect the Charter movement will last much longer here in California. In the coming years we'll see a backlash. I also expect it will become a clear "D vs. R" issue as well.
Alan January 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I actually thought that charter schools was a D vs R issue until I started looking closer. I guess even Democrats a) have children and b) want their children to get a good education and c) are exasperated with the stagnation of public schools And if the costs to the state are cheaper (not to mention that they keep deferring payments - now at 4 months), and Jerry Brown in his latest budget proposal is shifting funds to charter schools. Governor Jerry Brown even founded two Charter Schools in Oakland. James Carville and Bill Cosby are supporters of school choice. Democrats in the state of Washington are pushing to allow charter schools. It seems that the number of public school friends are shrinking, it is down to district school boards, some county school boards, and Diane Ravitch.
Joan J. Strong January 22, 2012 at 05:25 AM
According to her blog, Diane just an an "excellent" meeting with Jerry Brown. Clearly the Charter movement is bigger than its ever been and it's bipartisan--for now. The question is, will it get bigger or, now that it is faced with solving all of the "hard" problems in education, shrink from its new-found responsibility. Recall that Boutique charters like BCS have virtually no choice but to "succeed". BCS operates in the highest-scoring school district in the state and then proceed to "cream" the least-disadvantaged kids. Any group of idiots can produce a successful school with THESE odds. It's shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun. But harder areas are... harder. Los Altos is not a place where education is "failing". If the average district was even remotely close to ours the US would look like a race of gods from another planet. The "problems" in US education are the poor areas. Inside education circles the term "API scores" is meant to stand for the "Affluent Parent Index" and the numbers back this up. Rich areas are NOT having problems charter or no. The richer the area, the higher the test scores. It has nothing to do with "bad teachers" or "unions" etc. etc. (cont).
Joan J. Strong January 22, 2012 at 05:37 AM
[cont.] But with Charters just starting to walk their first mile in the public school's shoes, they are tripping left and right and the big thinkers like our governor, the BM Gates Foundation and others are starting to scratch their heads. In short, the idea doesn't work--but it will take a little while to prove this and for this to sink in. Not everybody is as intellectually honest as Diane Ravitch. As the big thinkers and the numbers start to show that Charters do not solve ACTUAL problems in education, they issue will THEN become divided along party lines. The Demos, I suspect, will drive back to the public school camp and, yes, get the union gravy train going again. Elements of the Republicans (win-at-all costs types and fringe elements like the KKK) will dig in to defend Charter schools at all costs, no matter what sort of disaster they create in our school systems. Creaming Boutiques like BCS will attempt to provide "shining examples" so the war between the parties will concentrate on them in particular. So in short, Los Altos and Hills, fasten your seat belts. The war started several years ago by these angry philanthropists is only going to get a LOT bigger and a lot more nasty. Expect Los Altos to be known nationwide as "that rich town with that Boutique Charter school". The Bloomberg article was just the beginning.
Ron Haley January 23, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Doug Smith knows nothing about the law. He was sure LASD was meeting it's prop 39 obligations, and we know how that worked out. It's a function of where the children live, not who charters them. IMHO, BCS will win a lawsuit on equal sharing of basic aid and parcel tax funds. And unlike the facilities transgressions, LASD could be asked to cough up funds not paid in prior years. If the case takes 4 years to go through the courts, LASD could be looking at a one time payment to BCS in excess of $18 million. There will be no peace between BCS and LASD until LASD treats all local public school students equally. And a $4,500 differential in per student funding isn't equal.
Ron Haley January 25, 2012 at 01:14 AM
David, We met with Joe perhaps 8 years ago. He didn't want to take sides :)

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