LASD Asks Bullis For Temporary Halt to Litigation

The next two months are critical to coming up with a short term solution and court hearings and motions will severely hamper the effort, the Los Altos School Board president says.


Los Altos School Board President Doug Smith has formally asked the Bullis Charter School to agree to a temporary halt in litigation while the two boards are engaged in the delicate business of determining how faciltiies will be allocated for the 2013-14 school year.

The board had raised the issue several times with the charter school. At is board meeting Monday night, board member Pablo Luther asked if for a formal request to signal the urgency and priority the board placed on a suspension of legal hostilities during the next critical months in which decisions will be made under the process mandated by the state law known as Prop. 39. Practical and critical decisions will also be made about portable buildings and equipment to house the charter school in the next few months, as well. 

The following letter was written by LASD Board President Doug Smith: 

13 February 2013

Mr. Ken Moore

Bullis Charter School

102 West Portola Avenue

Los Altos, CA 94022

Re: LASD Board of Trustees Calls For Pause Of All Litigation


Dear Ken: 

On Monday night, the LASD Board of Trustees (“Trustees”) discussed BCS’s expressed desire to work “urgently and transparently”with the District from now until April 1 on a facilities allocation at the Egan and Blach schools for the 2013-14 school year.  The Trustees agreed that LASD and BCS should agree to an immediate 90 day pause in all litigation activity to permit all stakeholders to engage in 6‐way discussions that all participants agree will not be used in court for any reason. The Trustees believe this would be in the best interests of the entire community—District and BCS alike—  for the following reasons.

• The litigation is siphoning large sums of money away from the children and has increased the level of conflict. Both sides have more in common than they have differences, yet the litigation will polarize the two camps as long as it remains.

• BCS’s announcement that it will accept an offer of facilities split between the Egan and Blach sites for 2013-14 means the parties are in agreement on the broader contours of a potential solution, and the devil is in the details. Those details need cooperative attention from both sides, free of the hostility and conflict that is inherent when the parties are simultaneously fighting in court.

• The next two months call for a particularly expensive and bitter stretch of litigation. A temporary pause would save a lot of public education dollars while giving 6-way discussions a fair chance to reach a short term solution.

• The failure to halt the litigation gives the 6-way talks little chance. No one can openly explore ways to make a relationship work while the other is trying to beat it in court. A clear and unequivocal action that displays good faith (like a 90-day litigation halt) is essential to reorienting the discussions on common goals.

• A peaceful end to the litigation is the only way all stakeholders will be able to work together on a long term solution. When this dispute began eight years ago, BCS supporters tried to work with the Los Altos Hills City Council on a plan to purchase the former BP elementary school site in Los Altos Hills. Although that kind of public-private partnering might ultimately yield a creative long term solution, litigation will never produce a mutually acceptable outcome and will scuttle any hope for the public-private partnering that provides the best hope for a mutually acceptable long term solution.

• The District has heard that the focus groups BCS recently convened reveal that BCS is highly polarizing in the community, and this is also what the District has heard. The District also has heard the BCS community is concerned about harassment. This rancor must be stopped. It harms both LASD and BCS’s reputations, and it shows this dispute has deteriorated too far. The end to litigation is essential. Given how entrenched BCS and LASD each are at this juncture, a 90 day pause to facilitate 6 way talks is a more realistic first step toward that goal.

The Agreement that the Trustees propose is very simple. Each side agrees to stop all activity in the litigation for 90 days, other than the execution of any stipulations necessary to preserve the status quo and permit the parties to resume the litigation in 90 days if, unfortunately, that becomes necessary. Each side also agrees to participate in 6-way discussions aimed in those 90 days at a short term solution for 2013-14. The parties contemplate that successful achievement of a short term solution will permit all parties to drop all pending litigation, and then move to further 6-way discussions on a long term solution for years 2014-15 and beyond. If you agree, we suggest that each side direct their attorneys immediately to standstill, and schedule Board meetings as soon as practicable to obtain Board approval of this concept. Because one of the key benefits of this proposal is to avoid the extensive community stress that the litigation is inflicting daily (not to mention the expense as well), time is of the essence so this offer will expire in 14 days.


Doug Smith

President, Board of Trustees

Los Altos School District

Joan J. Strong February 15, 2013 at 11:29 PM
John, First, by all means let me know how I can make it "easier" for you to respond :-). I'm here to help. Next, no, the old-old mediation was way before my time. Its unclear of the poster above was talking about THAT mediation though. If so, however, I stand corrected. My point about the "20%" (which is just a guestimate on my part) is that we are in a "zero sum game" situation: to move BCS students out of portable buildings and into cement buildings would necessarily mean moving LASD students the other direction. And yes, we ALL deal with portables EVERY SINGLE DAY. BCS students are not LASD students in any legal sense. This is a semantic nit of sorts, but LASD has absolutely no control over BCS in any imaginable way and is merely on the hook to provide them facilities. If a judge somewhere ruled that Pinewood should be provided facilities by LASD, then that would not make them LASD students. Here's a link to a recent story about unions and charters: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/union-wins-right-to-represent-valley-charter-school.html This is much more prevalent outside of CA right now, but there's nothing structural blocking unions from charters and vice-versa. I don't care about unions one way or another, but a lot of charter supporters do, and for many that's all they know about charter schools...
John Radford February 16, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Thanks for the link JJS Your claim was "teachers unions", which are on their way to becoming just as common in charter schools as they are in public schools. The article you provided noted that the teacher's union had won the right to represent 3 charter schools .BTW there are over a 1000 charters in this state. The article goes on to say and I quote "Though authorized by the L.A. Unified School District, most charter schools are independently managed and not bound by district union contracts. L.A. Unified has more independent charter schools, 186, than any school system in the nation, but most are nonunion. The proliferation of charter schools has contributed to a steady decline in union membership in recent years, which also has weakened the union’s political clout." Thanks for the article. I have no idea why you think it support the claims you are making. Charter schools like BCS can terminate a teacher's contract each year, measure and reward performance and not be bound by all of the union's workplace rules.
Joan J. Strong February 16, 2013 at 01:28 AM
John, charter schools do not inherently kill unions. That was the claim implicit in the original poster's comments: that a) we must get rid of all unions because that's the most important thing; and b) that charter schools do that. They do not inherently do so. Yes, most charters are not, at this time, unionized. Neither were public schools when they started. You could also make a public school district non-union, for that matter ( http://www.ctenhome.org/Nocontracts.htm ). There's nothing stopping you. Moving all public schools to private charter schools will not get rid of unions. You could, however, just do what they do in Texas, and simply outlaw unions, if that's what you really wanted. But alas, like many of us who have been to many a Las Vegas trade show, we all just hate unions and all of their crazy rules. They are associated with backward-thinking, corrupt, smelly, cigar-smoking, t-shirt wearing ingrates who wouldn't so much as let you plug a lamp into a light socket. Unions certainly have a well-earned negative reputation among Americans, which is why their power has waned to the point of near-obscurity in most of American life. And the Charter Industry knows this, so they proliferate (false) soundbites like, "anti-union = pro-charter"...
L.A. Chung February 16, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Patch's Terms Of Use do, indeed, address personal attacks, and I believe this discussion does not contain personal attacks from Joan J Strong. I have, from time to time, acted to remind participants of that specific term of use. And I have deleted personal attacks. I have also relied on the civility of the commenters to self-delete when they review their comments and conclude they may have presumed ill-motive of a specific individual's actions. I do not see personal attacks in this discussion. As for "nonsense," the terms of use do not address "nonsense," since one's person's "nonsense" may be another person's carefully considered opinion. "Falsities" are something that that the community of people participating in the discussion can demonstrate as false with objective evidence, or at least question the conclusion drawn from a common point of reference, such as a news article. It appears that John Radford has been pointing out where he sees questionable conclusion in Joan J Strong's assertions. This discussion is spirited, but there is nothing here that is a violation of our TOU, in my evaluation.
It will never end February 16, 2013 at 03:09 AM
White noise! Years, going on decades - wasted time and money - our grandchildren will probably be still dealing with this silly issue


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