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 18, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I will agree with Ron that Covington, Egan or Almond seem to be the prime choices for placing BCS. Oak and Gardner are on the edges of the district, geographically speaking. Gardner's full acreage is not completely usable because it is tiered on three or four different levels. Springer has a significant Mountain View population that needs a school near to them and Loyola seems difficult to get to if you're not living near it. Why not return Covington to its original use as a junior high and place BCS at Egan? Kids are at Egan for only 2 years versus 7 for elementary school so there might not be as much upset over changing locations.
Andrew November 18, 2011 at 09:23 PM
jolie-that's a great idea. The problem though is that your idea is rational, logical and reasonable. Something the LASD board and it's supporters like Harold refuse to employ when making decisions.
Harold Barton November 18, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Smear #1 rebuttal: The BCS facilities request dated 10/31 specifically calls out the Gardener campus as virtually the only one they would accept. They give long and detailed reasoning as to why they want that campus and no others. It's not practical (it's based on revenge after all) but that's what they said. Smear #2 rebuttal: As much as BCS people would like this war to be between "BCS and LASD", it's not. It's BCS versus Los Altos parents. I am a parent who wants to keep the school we've worked so hard to make great from being taken from us by a private entity. I could care less about LASD and if they do not defend our school, we will sue them too. *** It's important that BCS dehumanize this fight as much as possible and try to make people forget that they wish to disrupt the lives of our children and their parents. They need it to be a "fight the Man" sort of thing in order to gain any traction with the voting public. It's exactly the opposite of that, and after the Measure E fiasco I am heartened that we've shown that Los Altos voters are not the stupid sheep that the BCS people think we are.
Fred Binetti November 19, 2011 at 03:39 AM
What are the acreages of Springer and Oak Schools? I presume that they must be larger than the schools Ron Haley listed above as he calculates a need for 11 acres for the 439 k-6 students at BCS or 1 acre per 40 students while Almond has 520 students for 10 acres or 52 students per acre. But I dont think we need to get hung up on specific students per acres, just understand what is being proposed and requested. On another thought of trying to find a school site without displacing other children (the sacrifice of the many for the few) can the school district rent out of district schools such as the old Grant School Property in south Los Altos on Holt Drive, or the old Slater School Campus in Mt View on North Whisman which is rented to Google as a childcare site or the old Palo Alto Schools Fremont Hills Elementary School Site on Fremont Road in Los Altos hills which is leased to Pinewood School.?
Ron Haley November 19, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Fred, BCS had a committee at one stage looking for a site, and failed to find one. I believe they concentrated on Los Altos hills locations. I understand the site needs to be within the LASD boundaries. The Pinewood site isn't, and is tied up under contract for 20 years. Not sure about the other sites you mentioned.
Just Mom November 21, 2011 at 07:32 PM
So Courtenay answer one question: Why was BCS created? As a LASD parent I am not in the mood to fund a vendetta started when a gaggle of Bullis parents got mad that the original Bullis was shuttered. The oops we will try harder to attract a broader spectrum of kids argument is not sitting well with many. Why don't the parents of BCS do the right thing and go private as that is pretty much what BCS is. It cuts both ways now when one is asked to stand up and do the right thing!
Just Mom November 21, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Andrew that is not rational and logical. I think the joke is that you truly do not see the harm in displacing a bunch of kids for essentially a private school. I have no desire to have any of my children attend Bullis Charter School as I can see straight through the slick marketing.
Andrew November 21, 2011 at 09:56 PM
Just Mom-quite telling that you disagreed with me, rather than the LASD parent who suggested the idea. I merely said it sounded like a good idea. I'd be interested to hear why BCS it essentially a private school? The comment re: why doesn't BCS do the right thing and go private. Well 1) not many, if all would attend private (and that would be a strain on LASD, placing all those kids) 2) what's wrong with innovation and choice (we do live in the world's center of innovation) 3) it's a funny comment after 7+ years of LASD not doing the right thing by violating the rights of Los Altos kids by a) not following the law and b) irresponsibly misinforming the community hence using BCS as the 'red herring' problem when the real problem is their poor management of LASD It would be nice if they focused on what's best for students rather than their own self-interest Oh and PS...Mike C. -why do you prefer the fake name over your real name? Is it because you'd be embarassed for you children to know your irrational, close minded behavior?
Harold Barton November 21, 2011 at 10:47 PM
To equate a gang of lawyers and their backers exploiting a loophole in the law in order to use public funds to pay for their experiment with "innovation" makes me want to vomit. Silicon Valley was founded on entrepreneurs and their backers risking THEIR OWN money and sweat, not figuring out a way they can get something for nothing from the government. If you want to raise money for a private school and try something new, be my guest. If you want to do the same thing the various and sundry Solyndras have done over the years--well I guess there's not much the average citizen can do about THAT these days either. But to conflate the two is an insult to every innovator that has ever had to raise money for a new idea here in Silicon Valley--or any investor who has ever risked his own money to back them. BCS is just a scam to take-over public property, nothing more. Innovation does not start with lawyers and loopholes. No great company or idea was ever started under the mantra of "revenge".
Ron Haley November 22, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Fred, "the sacrifice of the many for the few" isn't accurate imo. Each displaced student will get to attend a fully renovated neighborhood school, whereas the BCS children will be moving to a renovated school after having spent 8 years in portables. This argument of yours reminds me of what it must have been like during the civil rights era - can't give anything to the blacks because we'll have to take something away from the white kids.
Harold Barton November 22, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Now the BCS millionaire scammers are comparing themselves to African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. To say that this is unbelievably offensive to anybody who has had to endure real racism is an understatement. But it shows what kind of people we are dealing with here. We really need to spread the word...
Just Mom November 22, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Not one BCS supporter has answered my question, "why was BCS originally started?" BCS was not started because of lacking local schools or for innovation, it was started as a vendetta against LASD for closing Bullis. This has always been about a group of disgruntled folks sticking it to the ones they perceive wronged them plain and simple. Unfortunately most of us have been caught in the crossfire. As for the civil rights comments that is so deeply offensive that my flabber has truly been ghasted! Really?
LA Parent November 23, 2011 at 06:15 AM
Does it really matter why the school started? The founders created an awesome school — the top charter school in California — at the same time it saves LASD money and offers a choice. I think the main problem is that LASD continues to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. The District's worst nightmare would be for parents to take the initiative and form more charters. That's why the school board continues to throw good money after bad, they need to make it as difficult as possible. BCS and LASD spend the same amount of money. If you don't believe me do your own investigation. Then ask yourself, why can BCS do so much more without spending more? Think of all the amazing and talented parents at your child's school, think of the great school you could create. The charter school law was designed to foster innovation and create competition. It's time for more charter schools in Los Altos.
Just Mom November 23, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Yes it does matter. I am and have been very happy with our schools. I do not care for people making it about innovation and choice when bottom line it was fueled by revenge and no one will admit it. Charter schools were conceived to provide innovation and choice for children in under performing districts. I ask myself why in a district where you can get a fantastic and rich curriculum are there people so bent on revenge that they want to ruin that.
Harold Barton November 23, 2011 at 09:02 AM
You are complaining that LASD is being dishonest when the ENTIRE PREMISE of BCS's existence is pure BS? Simple FACT: BCS was created for ONE REASON, which was REVENGE. It was NOT to educate kids better (already have the top schools here), it was NOT to save money (like a bunch of rich people care), it was NOT to create some kind of wacky "alternative" (already have Waldorf Schools). These are just excuses. The only worst nightmare here is that BCS is allowed to exist for another year. Kids in schools are ALREADY living in fear their school may close next year, that they'll be torn from their friends and teachers. Parents are ALREADY living in fear that the school they've spent so much money and worked so hard to make great will be STOLEN from them and placed under private control. Why can BCS do so much more without spending more? Because they aren't a public school that has to deal with real-world issues. And oh yeah, great job in making your school's test scores a whole TWO PERCENT HIGHER than the public schools here (when you have less problem students to deal with). That's such an amazing feat of "innovation". ANY idiot with some lawyers can do what BCS did.
sh November 23, 2011 at 09:15 AM
It is great that you love your schools. But charter school was not just for under performing districts, it is also "giving expanded choices in public education"' and "affording robust competition within public school system to encourage ongoing improvementS for all public schools." It is true that part of the reason why BCS started it's because LASD board closed down Bullis Purissima. But the founders of BCS take it as an opportunity to bring innovative education techniques to LASD. They have interviewed many potential candidates to carry out their vision. They finally decided on Ms. Hersey for her vison and passion for education. Ms. Hersey had said that if the founders had approach her with a sense of revenge, not for education innovation, she would not have taken the job. So BCS was not created as a vendetta, it was created for bring innovation into our school system.
Harold Barton November 23, 2011 at 09:51 AM
Look, we all know about the loophole your ingenious lawyers found in Prop 39 and the Charter laws, but save your breath here. No honest person would believe that Charter laws would have been passed into law here in California if BCS was the role model. The law's clear intent was to help disadvantaged areas, and that's why the voters voted for it. Yes, there are some areas of the law that SOME interpret to mean otherwise, but that was a failure of the writers of the law, not an indication of the will of the people. It is true the the ENTIRE reason for starting BCS was a revenge plot. No other factor is even remotely plausible. Ms. Hersey was approached with a sense of a gigantic salary and the chance to "shoot fish in a barrel" by turning the best students in California into... the best students in California. Oh yeah, she was really going out on a limb there. A real Maria Montessori.
LA Parent November 23, 2011 at 05:08 PM
It's not a loop hole. The law was set up to foster innovation and create competition. There is nothing about disadvantaged students listed. You are confusing disadvantaged with low achieving.
Bea November 23, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Can you please point to the data that shows that previously low achieving students have (a) enrolled at Bullis and (b) shown an increase in achievement? Charter schools that serve already high achieving students are making it difficult for the broader charter school movement that seeks to apply innovation to RAISE achievement for underperforming students.
Courtenay C. Corrigan November 23, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Harold...No "honest" person could look at the corner carved out for BCS at Egan and call it equivalent to the other schools in LASD in any way. Honesty and reality have long-ago left your point of view.
Just Mom November 23, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Courtenay dear honesty and BCS and it's supporters are something that have never met. If the BCS supporters think they can shine us on with talk of innovation and choice they are clearly delusional. Remove the C and you have exactly what BCS and it's supporters shovel! Quite frankly Courtenay i'd say the area the currently occupy is over generous and that they might want to consider taking their innovation somewhere it will be better appreciated. Reality yeah revenge is not innovative, been around since the dawn of time! Reality, not to difficult to take high performing students and make them just a little better. Let's see what happens when BCS has a better mix of students, then we will talk reality.
Just Mom November 23, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Thank you LA parent I now know why packaging is labeled with so much silly stuff. Do not put babies in the dishwasher, do not use a hair dryer near water, do not hold scissors while running. I used to think that was silly, now I see it is important to make things crystal clear so that the intention of the product is not changed to suit the buyer. Everyone knows why the charter movement began and twisting it to suit your needs does not change that.
jolie November 23, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I have friends at the Charter but how do you get past something like this? How do you look at someone with a smile when they hurt your child? When they push to close your child's school, kick him out and give it to their own child. BCS parents sent their children to the Charter at its current location. I chose not to send my child there even though a spot was "saved" for me based on the geographical preference for Hills kids. It's heartbreaking and it only makes it more so when they package this push as a lawsuit against the district and not what it really is - an injury to our children and a lesson about how some adults don't care who they hurt as long as they get what they want.
sh November 23, 2011 at 07:59 PM
It's not up to BCS to close down any of the schools. It's LASD's decision. Instead of telling BCS to go away, (remember , you are also hurting their children), you should demand LASD board to offer a reasonable facility space to BCS ASAP, and with good faith, that will impact minimum number of students in the district.
Just Mom November 23, 2011 at 08:39 PM
A decision which BCS is forcing on LASD. If they do not like what is currently offered there is a simple solution, go elsewhere. I have zero sympathy for people hell bent on revenge and hurting the majority of folks who have no interest in BCS and its ilk!
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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