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.