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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.

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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