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UPDATED: Los Altos School Board To Petition State Supreme Court Over Bullis Charter School Ruling

Saying the Oct. 27 decision affects not only Los Altos, but '95 percent of the children in the state that don't attend charter schools,' the board votes 4-0 to keep fighting.

Saying that the majority of the state's public school children's education was at stake, the Board voted 4-0 Monday night to take its long-running case with the to the California Supreme Court.

"The board has carefully considered this matter and the costs associated with it and believes it is in the best interest of the district and the students to further fight this appeal," said school board president Bill Cooper after a closed session of the board.

Bullis Charter School (BCS) and the school district have been at odds over facilities allocation, mandated by Prop. 39 and interpreted by a series of state regulations, for several years. Four separate legal challenges filed by BCS had upheld the school district—until the .

An Oct. 27 published ruling by the Sixth District Court of Appeal, which found in favor of BCS and overturned a Superior Court ruling, was thought by many observers to have —and charter schools that use those districts' space.

The appeals court ruled that the school district had not complied with Prop. 39 in the 2009-10 school year. The school district was supposed to analyze the existing space at comparison schools and offer "reasonably equivalent" facilities. The court stated that when measuring the space at district-run schools, the district   excluded from consideration more than a million square feet, collectively, from five schools used as comparison schools.

"This is not just in the interest made of our 4,500 children," said school board member Tammy Logan. "... this ruling was very broad and would have impacted the 95 percent of children in the state that don’t attend charter schools."

School board member Margot Harrigan, who is retiring from the board in December after 12 years, was not present to vote.

In announcing its decision to petition the state's highest court, the district  contended, via a written statement bearing the names of all five trustees, that the state appeals court had decided that districts must follow a strict formula for measuring space to establish reasonable equivalence, contrary to previous decisions on Prop. 39 space allocation.

"The decision not only impairs school districts from exercising their judgment, balance interests, and make decisions in the best interests of all students, it provides a windfall to charter schools, affording them greater space than afforded students attending district schools," the district announcement read.

"As much as this court might wish to cast this process as strictly formulaic, in practice, the allocation of resources under the standard of "reasonably equivalent" does not neatly fit into a by-the-numbers approach," said Board president Bill Cooper in the written statement. Hence, he said, was the need for boards to apply judgment and discretion in balancing the needs of all children in the district, those who attend the charter school and those who attend the district schools.

The district has filed for a rehearing of the case in the state Court of Appeal, and plans to file its petition to the state Supreme Court on or before Dec. 6, 2011, according to the statement.

The Los Altos School District serves elementary and middle school children in most of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, and parts of Mountain View.

Los Altos Patch will have more on the decision on Tuesday.

jolie November 24, 2011 at 12:41 AM
sh's response is an example of BCS' position - "It's not us asking to close your school; it's the district" - when in fact it IS BCS asking that GB be given to the charter. I guess it makes them sleep better at night.
Harold Barton November 24, 2011 at 08:38 PM
We really need to spread the word about BCS. Based on what I've learned here from BCS supporters and doing my own research, in six weeks I've gone from typical LASD parent to rabid anti-BCS warrior. I have never been "political" in my life, but I will be now. And I'll gladly spend the money that will go to private school tuition if we lose in order to help fight this I was introduced to this whole topic in detail about six weeks ago. Before I was pretty much like every other parent in LASD. I even considered (and applied to) BCS for my children at one point based on its marketing. Fortunately I chose the best path. Not all parents were so lucky. We should understand that BCS parents are victims here too: they generally have no idea they are pawns in a revenge plot. So the way forward is to stop BCS from further damaging our community, but we should do this as humanely as possible. BCS could stop taking new students, for instance, in exchange for better facilities. I would personally donate my own money to help them find a better temporary campus, and I bet others would too. What we need now is outreach. Understand the topic, get the facts, and let people know. Warn parents who, like I once was, are thinking of sending their kids to BCS. Tell parents whose schools are targets for BCS take-overs what is going on. The fight might get ugly--sometimes you need a little drama to get the word out--but it won't last long if people learn the facts.
Ron Haley January 19, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Supreme court denied the LASD appeal. What next?
Just Mom January 19, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Ron you need to get a hobby. Seriously! Stop stirring the pot and go spend time with your family.
Deep Grizzly January 19, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Here's an example of what's next: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO3C17Uv1fc Also, the NAACP, the ACLU, Diane Ravitch, protests at BCS info nights and LOTS more online fighting. Are there lawsuits in BCS's future? Are they violating the rights of citizens by their exclusionary policies? Will they let "undesirables" in who cannot afford $5000/year or have even the slightest disability? Live by the sword, die by the sword...

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