UPDATED: Ruling on Bullis Charter School Case

The judgment that arrived Monday afternoon in the mail described how the Los Altos School Board must measure space in offering facilities to Bullis Charter School and awarded court costs to the school.

Editor's note: Los Altos Patch erroneously described the court fees in the original sub-headline of this article.

This article has been updated to reflect additional information regarding that aspect of the judgment.

Additional update March 27, 11:44 a.m.: Comments from Bullis Charter School attorney have been included. Contextual background about the origination of the case in 2009 have also been added. 12:45 p.m.: Reaction Statement from Bullis Charter School, attached, in full. The Los Altos School District statement, emailed shortly before 5 p.m., is also attached.

The Los Altos School District (LASD) received a four-page judgment in the mail Monday, that included the methodology it should use to measure school space to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to Bullis Charter School.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Lucas entered judgment in favor of Bullis (BCS), providing six points describing what LASD must do in arriving at "reasonably equivalent" facilities on par with those of comparison schools. 

"We think it's a fair and right order," said LASD Board President Mark Goines, after the school board's special meeting, at which members voted on its final offer to BCS, including elements that were contained in the judgment. That offer must be made by April 1.

[Updated comment added] Attorney Arturo Gonzalez, the Morrison & Foerster partner who tried the case on Bullis' behalf called it "the completion of a long and arduous legal process to get a school district to comply with the law.”

“We are hopeful that the Los Altos school board will stop playing legal chess and finally provide Bullis with a reasonable site.”

The judgment included the following:

  • The district must consider total site size and account for all building and outdoor space.
  • The district shall use the actual size of building and stop its practice of using "standard" room sizes to represent the facilities at the comparison schools. 
  • LASD shall measure all outdoor space at comparison schools
  • The district shall provide accurate measurement of the amount of building and outdoor space offered to Bullis, based on the correct configuration of that campus and prorate the shared space based on the time BCS is allotted.
  • The district cannot consider the square footage of the Bullis multi-purpose room, which was paid for, and installed, by Bullis.
  • The district shall offer facilities, such as a childcare facility and amphitheater, reasonably equivalent to those at comparison schools.
  • The district shall specify sharing arrangements in its offer and stop charging BCS a pro rata fee for shared space without regard to sharing arrangements restricting BCS' use of the space.

Bullis was awarded its costs of the suit. [Updated information follows]

Court costs, said LASD vice-president Doug Smith, includes court filing fees and are nominal. BCS has filed a demand for attorneys' fees, for which a hearing has not yet been held.  Smith said he expects that the district would oppose that request.

The court case began in 2009, when Bullis filed suit in Superior Court contending that the district violated Proposition 39, which requires school districts to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities space to charter schools in their districts. The court found against Bullis, and BCS appealed. The state Sixth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a previous lower court ruling, finding that the facilities provided by the Los Altos School District did not comply with Proposition 39. LASD appealed to the California Supreme Court, which denied review of the decision.

Mountain View Patch will carry a wrap-up story about the Monday night board meeting and the facilities offer final vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Joan J. Strong March 27, 2012 at 09:36 PM
The District is giving more space to BCS at Egan and also offering Blach for it's 7-8 graders, thus making the offer compliant. This isn't that hard. Clearly the District needs to make hard trade-offs in the best interests of every District student, not just the very richest ones at BCS.
Claudia Cruz (Editor) March 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM
To Joan J. Strong: The poster that put "SOS Share our School?" She's also added other comments and it doesn't appear to be robo-spamming. Also, feel free to email me about the comments you find to be "defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive." I'll make the judgment. However, compared to comments I've seen elsewhere, these do not appear to be "defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive." But I could be wrong.
K Justice-Moore March 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I confess I don't know exactly what robo-spamming means, but there is more than one person writing SOS: Share Our Schools anyway. I don't know who "GwenMarie D." is, but was delighted to see that she had picked up on the logo too. SOS: Sharing Our Schools. It's the only way to heal this mess. Sharing.
Claudia Cruz (Editor) March 27, 2012 at 10:54 PM
My point is, that I've been monitoring this thread and it's not out of hand. I will step in and moderate. Thanks for your concerns, however. It is important to maintain a respectful space.
Joan J. Strong March 27, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Yep, meaningless chants are all BCS has got now... Reason has surely failed them...
dc weak March 28, 2012 at 12:03 AM
SOS spawn of smith
jolie March 28, 2012 at 03:13 AM
SOS - Steal our schools. BCS isn't willing to share.
Long Time Reader March 28, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Hi Claudia, The only person in this thread who should not be allowed to leave comments on Patch.com is Joan Strong. Her comments are disrespectful and add nothing meaningful to the discussion here. Respectfully, Long Time Reader
Joan J. Strong March 28, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Disrespectful... of whom?
Bill March 28, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Since so much effort was put into defining "reasonably equivalent", I wonder if BCS will go to such lengths to define "reasonably comprehansive description" of "The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted."...as required by charter law. CSBA recommends that a “reasonably comprehensive description” would address the following: • Description of efforts and timelines to ensure racial and ethnic balance. • Description of a viable plan for recruiting a student population reflective of the population of the surrounding community. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the petitioning authority is the County, not LASD.
Long Time Reader March 28, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Joan, You are displaying a disrespectful attitude mostly to yourself but also to BCS parents. In a number of posts you have included a link to a fake BCS web site which content is nothing else but insulting propaganda. You know, you can be prosecuted for this. Respectfully, Long Time Reader
Joan J. Strong March 28, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Okay, so BCS people are now making legal threats against free speech? Very nice. If you are referring to BullisCharterScam.org, I have REPEATEDLY asked, as has that website, for any factual corrections--and none have been offered by BCS people (the site DOES speak of many corrections made by community members, but never by BCS people). When you have a factual criticism as I often do and the BullisCharterScam.org site does, that is part of rational discussion. Saying, as you do, that one is "full of lies" without any evidence whatsoever is just... insulting propaganda... (But you can't be prosecuted for it). I understand you are upset. Your school has been misleading you for many years. They promised they you would get a particular campus and we all know that's never going to happen. They promised they would get the parcel tax and save you that $5k, but even the BCS website itself contradicts those numbers and I've shown and the BullisCharterScam.org site has shown that such a move would be unfair and cruel to less advantaged kids--and illegal on several levels. It's time for BCS to rethink their entire strategy. I offer a vision of this here: http://bullisCharterSchoolThoughts.blogspot.com/
Ron Haley March 28, 2012 at 07:34 PM
BCS Press Release Court issues order in facilities lawsuit The Honorable Patricia Lucas of the Superior Court of the State of California has issued her judgment and order in the facilities lawsuit. This order is very similar to what BCS proposed and is a strong order supporting our efforts to obtain a fair allocation of facilities. The order directly contradicts the District’s repeated statements that only their methodology, rather than the actual facilities they had offered, were found to violate the law. In fact the Judge grants declaratory relief stating “The District violated Proposition 39 and its regulations by … housing Bullis in-District students on a temporary campus with significantly less per-in-District student space than at comparison schools…” The Court orders that “The temporary camp site referenced in the Court of Appeal’s opinion is not reasonably equivalent to the District’s own comparison schools.” Most importantly, the Court agreed, over the District’s strong objections, to retain jurisdiction under Cal. CCP 1097 “to make any orders necessary and proper for the complete enforcement of the writ”. We shall have to await the issuance of the actual final offer by the District, but this provides a direct path back to Judge Lucas without delay if the District does not comply with the Court of Appeal ruling.
Ron Haley March 28, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I understand BCS hasn't as yet filed for attourney fees. They got a 60 day extension so as to see how LASD behaves this time around. Given the final offer, expect the filing sooner rather than later.
Community Member March 28, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I don't buy the notion that LASD's legal costs have been a waste of money. If BCS demands millions of dollars of facilities from LASD it may well be more cost-effective to spend a fraction of that on legal costs to ensure BCS doesn't get more than it deserves and that more dollars are left to educate LASD students. If BCS hadn't litigated in the first place, then it's true that there would have been more money available to educate both BCS and LASD students.
Ron Haley March 28, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Bill, I'm looking forward to the day (soon I hope) where BCS can accept all applicants. That will kill this argument for good.
Ron Haley March 28, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Community member, LASD's legal costs aren't past tense. They are ongoing. There is also a strong chance that they will have to reimburse BCS $ 1 million +. Then there is the $ 3 million they turned down to meet their prop 39 legal obligation, and of course the $ 14 million they spent refurbing GB after BCS had offered to do it for free. Close to $20 million. Just think what the district could have done with that money. Now they want to raise money by issueing another bond measure!? Personally, I have trouble rewarding incompetence!
Community Member March 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
To your first point, even with the possibility of those costs it could still be cost-effective. $1M+ is a lot of money for BCS to spend on litigation that could have gone towards education ($2K+ per student). Presumably BCS also felt this was cost-effective. Your 2nd two items aren't about legal costs but to address them: I am generally a huge supporter of accepting free money but also generally skeptical that what appears to be free money really is free. However, I believe your point in the additional 2 items was to question the financial stewardship of the LASD board. I'm sure there's room for improvement but they spend less money per pupil than BCS and achieve pretty similar test scores while also educating special needs students. Granted there's no Mandarin or class trips to Costa Rica but it's still excellent.
K Justice-Moore March 28, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Oops, typo there Jolie. It's *LASD* that isn't willing to share. For 8 years, BCS has been asking the district to share the 100+ acres it holds in trust for all pubic students. For 8 years, the district has refused. SOS: Share Our Schools.
Joan J. Strong March 28, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Wow, here's Barbara Goodrich again with her phony baloney "disinterested citizen" routine. She's a BCS supporter from way back and took part in the deceitful campaign against Measure E. Google it, people.
Joan J. Strong March 28, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Scaling BCS is impossible. Very, very few people have the $5000 ($8500+ from what I heard) per child per year to pay for a school with exactly the same test scores as surrounding schools and is also a pariah in our community. Go ahead, just TRY to scale. Outside of the super-rich in LAH you have no (paying) audience for your product.
Claudia Cruz (Editor) March 28, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Joan, your comment below about Goodrich taking part in "the deceitful campaign" can be considered defamatory (libel: A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation) because you are accusing her concealing/misrepresenting the truth. Unless you want to provide evidence of the truthfulness, you shouldn't publish it. Do you want to delete it or should I?
Joan J. Strong March 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I'd be more than happy to provide evidence. To clarify my remarks above, note that I did say that Barbara was herself "directly" deceitful in her fight against Measure E, but rather she supported a campaign that was at times, deceitful. I DID imply that she is being very misleading in presenting herself as a "disinterest citizen" since there's ample evidence that is not the case. She stated above, "I'm not invested in one solution over another", which is demonstrably false. Please read the background behind the campaign against Measure E here: http://BullisCharterScam.org/bullis_charter_history.php#measure_e Now view evidence of Barbara's involvement (and her intimate knowledge of BCS and Measure E) here: http://www.losaltosonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23989&Itemid=55
Joan J. Strong March 29, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Speaking of defamation, could you please delete every single post that implies that I or anybody else here is "David Cortright" (unless of course it is David Cortright)? That is absolutely, positively defamatory to Mr. Cortright. Note that I don't make a big deal out of this because I personally wish to remain anonymous and fanatics like Ron here thinking I'm this person actually assists in that goal. However, it's clearly a personal attack (how can it be anything else?) and, yes, defamatory to Mr. Cortright as it falsely ascribes written statements to a real person by people who are making a positive statement with no evidence and are while willfully disregarding strong and clear evidence to the contrary. It's open and shut defamation insofar as Mr. Cortright could prove damages (which admittedly would be the hardest part of the case since they make him out to be some kind of superman). That notwithstanding, I am dumbfounded as to how these comments are considered within the ToU here....
Ron Haley March 29, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Joan, Isn't this an issue for Mr. Cortright? If you aren't him, why don't you stay out of it :)
iii March 29, 2012 at 02:48 AM
SOS = Short on Sanity
iii March 29, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Where did the logo go? Didn't you like it anymore?
Joan J. Strong March 29, 2012 at 03:15 AM
So Ron I'll tell you what. If you REALLY want to show everybody here your are not willfully lying, why don't you write a letter from yourself to the members of the SCCBOE to whom Mr. Cortright regularly corresponds and tell them that I am him, and I am against charter schools as a solution to the achievement gap (which I have gone on record as saying), and thus these actually represent HIS views as well, despite him saying the opposite in his blog. This will materially damage David's relationship with the SCCBOE (which would be a good thing for you) and thus provide his defamation suit very clear-cut damages that actually could amount to some real money (even for you). David Cortright, a very helpful member of our community, could probably use some extra money--especially YOUR money. Obviously you'd do this if you REALLY believed you were right. But alas, you won't, because you don't, as it's just another arrow in your quiver of lies designed to confuse the conversation when you are badly losing the argument otherwise.
iii March 29, 2012 at 04:20 AM
SOS = Short on Sanity
iii March 29, 2012 at 04:32 AM
OH NO where did my LOGO go?


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