POLL: Should County Ed Board Come to Los Altos May 22?

Parents asked the county board of education to come to Los Altos last January. Five months later, discussions were restarted and a possible meeting date was resurrected at Eagle Theater.


Is it a go? Will it happen?

On Wednesday night, they'll talk about it.

After some starts and stops, a subcommittee of the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE) has convened and re-identified a date and a location for a forum in Los Altos: May 22, Eagle Theater.

The board will discuss whether that date and that forum can go forward, to Los Altos parents' entreaties for the board to come to the community and engage in dialogue about its role in authorizing the Bullis Charter School and community expectations.

The main difference now is that a tentative long-term agreement has been reached between Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District, that has the potential to bring a decade of "litigation peace."

The county school board memo is attached; parties to the discussions about the forum mention that the county board wanted to hold off a such a meeting in April as mediated talks looked like they might bear fruit. When they agreed upon a facilitator, Dick Henning, schedules and venues did not match up until after June. , there was succinctly detailing the past five months' of meetings about holding the forum.

During the May 2 board meeting, Los Altos School District parents told the county school board that that they wanted to meet before school ended, not wait until fall.

Los Altos Patch has posted a copy of that memo, as well as correspondence received after the May 2 meeting. Some of the correspondence refers to testimony made by parents with special needs, and by parents who wrote to express their appreciation for the time spent by the board.

One note is from Mayor Val Carpenter, who advises that in looking for a county representative for appointment to the Bullis Charter School, that citizens from Mountain View, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and unincorporated Santa Clara County could be considered, since the Los Altos School District boundaries encompass those.

comment1320 May 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
A step in the right direction -- anyone can attend and speak at the SCCOE meetings and many LASD parents have. If SCCOE delays the forum, the SCCOE is not "refusing to meet" they are just saying this is not the time. I think the SCCOE has gone out of their way to respond and answer the concerns of LASD parents. It may be that you don't like the answers and think if you keep asking, the answer will be different.
A step in the right direction May 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM
The problem is that the Forum should have been held 5 months ago, when it was originally requested. The timing will never be perfect and I see no reason to postpone the meeting any longer. I am a taxpayer with no children at LASD or at BCS. As a taxpayer, I have questions about how my tax dollars are being spent on public education in this area. The only decision-making entity who is accountable to the taxpayers regarding BCS operations is the SCCOE, so as our elected officials it is their responsibility to address our community concerns in a timely manner.
LASD resident May 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
A step in the right direction. You say you have questions about how your tax dollars are being spent on public education in this area. Absolutely good questions but is that what the Forum is suppose to address or not?
Joan J. Strong May 16, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Many getting more people getting upset would be a GOOD THING. Them getting upset will mean that they understand the TRUTH. When a local school community is annihilated because of BCS, nobody--NOBODY--in this community should be caught off guard. Nobody should be able to say, "I had no idea". Every person in this town should know what is happening here. The more information the better. If County board has nothing new to say, well, they should just SAY IT AGAIN--and again, and again until every single citizen on our two towns knows every detail of this mess. Parents are being asked to abandon the school they have worked hard for and have poured their own money into for years. Is it too much to ask the County board members spend two measly hours to tell them why? All of the BCS people, of course, want to keep all of this as quiet as possible. What does that tell you?
A step in the right direction May 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Yes, the Forum appears the appropriate place to address these questions, which involve how the SCCOE "oversees charters" (the purpose of the meeting according to Courtney C. Courigan, above) and also involve "engaging in dialogue about its role in authorizing the Bullis Charter School and community expectations" (the purpose according to the Patch article above). I have written to the SCCOE and they have not been helpful or responsive. In fact, I received an e-mail from exactly one member and it was an impersonal "boilerplate" e-mail that was actually quite rude and reflected that he had not even read my letter. When I explained that I was not an LASD or BCS parent, I received apologies from that member as well as from others, but still no answers. Further, asking the many concerned taxpayers in Los Altos to go see the 5 SCCOE members in Santa Clara is like asking us to travel to Sacramento to see our CA Assemblyman or to Washington DC to see our Senator. When there is a firestorm of concern, the elected officials usually go to meet with their constituents in the affected area. The SCCOE has not been responsive to our community, in my opinion. They are the chartering agency for BCS and they have oversight authority for BCS. If they do not want to answer to their constituents re: BCS, then they should either give up their seats to someone who will be responsive, or they should give up oversight authority to an entity (such as LASD) that will be responsive to the taxpayers.
Bill May 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM
What should be covered in this forum is the process by which SCCOE intends to revoke charters for failing to meet the required guidelines and law. A charter may be revoked by the authority that granted the charter if the authority finds that the charter school did any one or more of the following (Education Code 47607): • Committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter. • Failed to meet or pursue any of the pupil outcomes identified in the charter. • Failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles or engaged in fiscal mismanagement. • Violated any provision of law. The State Board of Ed can also do the same. Specific to BCS, the law is broken by requiring a drivers license to be considered for enrollment (BCS registration forms). The McKinney Vento Homeless Act is also violated by requiring immunization records as mandatory. Aside from the violations, these policies have the effect of weeding out lower socioeconomic and disadvantaged students. If you don't have a drivers license (child born in US of parent whos immigration status is in question) or have limited/no medical records (disadvantaged/homeless)...then the application is not accepted.
Bill May 17, 2012 at 02:30 PM
The discussion should also include, so as to avoid the perception of white flight, or skimming, or "cool island"...are whatever term one chooses for a "boutique charter" the following school board guideline... "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." This is one of the 16 required elements of a charter petition.....was that discussed at the recent renewal? Are charters living up to that end of the bargain? If not, what are the repurcussions for the schoool and authorizing board?
lasd resident May 17, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Bill, You are incorrect on a number of items. It is perfectly legal to request a driver's license (or something similar). There are many districts that do this including Palo Alto. BCS also does not require any medical records to be part of the lottery, and there are state programs that provide immunization, medical services for the state requirements for entry into our public schools. Presumably BCS makes families that are accepted aware of these programs, just as I am sure LASD does. In addition, BCS's outreach program was discussed ad nauseum at the renewal process and it was shown that BCS is actually more diverse than 5 out 7 of LASD's owns schools. In addition, they committed to further outreach specifically to the Hispanic community. I hope that clarifies things for you.
jolie May 17, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Actually lasd resident: BCS required these items to enroll in the lottery not once they received a spot. That's what made them illegal.
Joan J. Strong May 17, 2012 at 03:21 PM
It's illegal to NOT enroll your child in their local neighborhood public school. This is the same model we've had here for some 250 years. It's dishonest conflation, therefore, to say that public schools are "exclusionary" just like BCS. Meanwhile, BCS recently corrected their illegal behavior in this regard when an SCCBOE board member called this out. Kudos. Now, will BCS "really" reach out to low-income families? Well, doing so would be tantamount to shutting their school down, so we'll see. You see, BCS has lavish, private-school-like programs like two teachers in every class and field trips around the world. In order to maintain the school's viability, they MUST get $5000/child on average, and it is probably much more than that in "supplemental". Lots of "poor" people joining this school would bring that whole model crashing down.
LASD resident May 17, 2012 at 05:17 PM
It is my understanding that at the SCCBOE meeting last night they made a decision not to hold this meeeting. Anyone know if that is correct?
Courtenay C. Corrigan May 17, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I was not there but was told they have postponed it for now. I believe--again, I wasn't there--they want to wait until BCS and LASD reach an agreement.
Bill May 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
lasd res..REQUIRING a drivers license is absolutely illegal as is requiring immuizations. BCS registration packet for enrollment REQUIRES BOTH (and has for a long time). That packet is listed online at BCS site. The instructions clearly say "Incomplete registration forms will not be accepted" Page 10 of the packet says "incluse ALL of the following" 1. Copy of parent valid drivers license If this has been corrected, it doesn't seeem BCS is in any hurry to change it online. So much for the outreach. Again, this process serves to filter out only but the most advantaged within the community. http://www.bullischarterschool.com/cms/lib6/CA01001253/Centricity/Domain/24/2012-13_BCS_Registration_Packet.pdf
Joan J. Strong May 18, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Translation: they don't want to get anywhere near the massive mess they made in approving this charter... They want to wait until the whole thing "blows over" which, if BCS finally succeeds in closing a school, will be NEVER...
Courtenay C. Corrigan May 18, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Joan, right? Grow up. Ask them yourself. However, if you want anyone to take you seriously, I suggest you start by using your own name and not your alias. I hear the SCCOE is sick and tired of the anger you and your compatriots have drummed up. Time to hang up your gloves and try to find a way to co-exist.
Bill May 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I hear the opposite. I hear from a number a well respected sources that the SCCOE relishes the opportunity to sort this out once and for all, but in a clear fashion. Unfortunately there seems to be a certain political influence (armed with a ton of cash) impeding the process at every step with threats of lawsuits and political pressure. Who could that be.... hmmmm?
comment1320 May 18, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Bill, from the comments at the SCCOE meeting, it was clear that the forum was delayed because some of the speakers' behavior showed that the purpose was not to "heal" or to answer charter law questions but to attack the SCCOE and BCS. The SCCBOE also made it clear that much of the responsibility for this mess, and the ongoing misunderstanding of charter law, lies with the LASD BoT. It is time for LASD to take responsibility rather than redirect it to the SCCOE or BCS.
Joan J. Strong May 18, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Still spitting out mindless insults, I see Courtenay. You ought to learn how to speak like an adult someday. The SCCOE hasn't "drummed up" anger and neither have I. It turns out that a group of billionaires and their lawyers intent on closing down the schools we all love makes people angry. Yes, you might expect a group of people who got so angry that they spent millions of dollars to get revenge on a school district for closing a school to understand this, but apparently we are "different" than they are. BCS has been coexisting successfully for eight years on the campus that every single one of its parents WILLFULLY CHOSE. But the "gloves" in the form of some of the most expensive litigators in the world, won't be hung up at BCS until they close a school. This deal is the result of extortion, not any sort of "harmony". Of course, the SCCBOE's actions couldn't have ANYTHING to do with the fact that they are on the BCS payroll, right? http://www.kpao.org/2012/05/ken-moore-kristen-moore-francis-lapoll-gave-2000-to-craig-manns-2010-re-election-campaign-1.html
lasd resident May 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Bill... can you show me the ed code that prohibits asking for a driver's license? If indeed it does exist, than PAUSD is in violation as well as many other districts. And if you actually look at the registration form, immunization information is optional until a child is enrolled, and even then CA law allows for parents to not immunize their children.
Bill May 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM
resident, I'm growing weary of the ignorance and denial. The BCS application REQUIRES (and has required all along) a drivers license or APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED....Page 1 of BCS Registration checklist says "REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION, #7 Proofs of Residenct.....drivers license. That means, to anyone reading the application: Don't bother unless you are a citizen, go try your local school which ,by law, will accept you. http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/cl/cefistatus.asp above is the CDE reference.....feel free to educate yourself As for immunizations...The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires schools to enroll new students who are homeless even if their immunization records are missing or unavailable at the time of enrollment. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/cefimmunization.asp You should spend 5 minutes and read the rules, then read the 11 page BCS Registration checklist and tell us......do you honestly believe that any socioeconimically disadvantaged/ non-immunized homeless/ or (egads) illegal alien parent would think BCS a welcoming environment? Parent citizenship status shouldn't matter...Current law states that school-age children who reside in California must not be denied a free public education based on citizenship status. Resident students are required by statute to attend public school from ages six to eighteen. The PAUS example is a pahtetic attempt at a cop-out. The BCS reg process, however inadvertantly, weeds these kids out.
Bill May 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/cl/cefistatus.asp But I'll do you one even better than Ed code....how about our Constitution? the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects “any person,” not just “any citizen.” Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982) The California State Board of Education (SBE) filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982). In arguing against Texas statutes that denied public school enrollment and withheld state funds from local school districts for children “illegally admitted” to the United States, the SBE stated: As educators concerned with the provision of quality education for all children and for the improvement of society through an educated population, the California State Board of Education believes strongly that there is no rational educational or fiscal purpose in excluding children of illegal aliens from receiving the educational opportunities available to all other children. (27)
Bill May 21, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Simply put, since the BCS Registration Packet (which is still online as of today) says MULTIPLE TIMES..."Incomplete or late Registration Packets will not be eligible for consideration for this Open Enrollment Period.", SO, if an applicant cannot produce all documents (dirvers license, immunization etc), you cannot even APPLY to this school. CAN NOT APPLY BECAUSE YOUR APPLICATION WILL BE REJECTED.
Joan J. Strong May 21, 2012 at 06:28 PM
BCS is essentially private school which can do anything it wants and our public schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS to which ALL residents are REQUIRED to send their children. This difference is burned into the minds of our citizens based on hundreds of years of tradition: public schools take all comers. Period. End of story. It's very simple: if a child is not enrolled in their local neighborhood public school, THEY WILL BE FORCED TO DO SO. It does a public school no benefit, then, to attempt to exclude students. BCS, meanwhile, has the MANY incentives to "wave off" less advantaged kids: * They have less money for their "house of cards" financial model: to many poor kids = bye bye BCS super-rich programs * They bring down average test scores: lower test scores than LASD school = bye bye BCS enrollment * They don't have luminary parent(s) and won't fit in socially with the super-rich BCS kids * Generally, they cost more to educate So we have every reason to believe that BCS will do every imaginable SUBTLE thing they can to discourage parents and their children who aren't perfect.
Bill May 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
JJS....and that opinion is exactly what differentiates people who understand the INTENT of charter law as well as the difference between wrong and right. There are those that would label you and I as "anti-charter" or "pro-union" "anti-choice" etc....when in fact, this fight is over what is Right and what is Wrong. It is Wrong for BCS to bully another community from its school site just for the sake of its own growth. It is Wrong for BCS to have application procedures that create hurdles for the disadvantaged. There is a place for charter schools....there are reasons for charter schools....there are needs for charter schools. BUT BCS satisfies merely a fraction (read loophole) of those circumstances.
Bill May 21, 2012 at 07:45 PM
While most would agree that choice in education is good, we need to understand and examine the consequences of that choice.The reality of school choice is that it creates winners and losers in the public education system. The winners are the families whose children attend the school they want to attend. The losers are those left behind in schools that, because of the choices of others, have fewer resources and greater needs. A major consequence of school choice is that schools have become increasingly racially segregated. In the schools most impacted by families sending their kids elsewhere, the kids left behind are often left in a school where a large % of the population is poor or have special needs. But school choice is concentrating those poor and special needs kids in some schools, while wealthier families move their children elsewhere. With just a little bit of vision, it's also easy to see that this is a spiral that will only lead to greater concentration of poverty in certain schools, with an almost certain concurrent slide in test scores, followed by more parents choosing to take their kids out of those schools, resulting in more concentrated poverty, and worse scores, and on and on and on. There needs to be a moral highground, but that seems lost long ago with the first check to the education and high minded attroneys involved.
americathefree May 21, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I should have a choice not to send my kids to a school with a bunch of poor people and special ed kids. If I don't want my kids mixing with those types, that's my prerogative. America is all about free choice. Don't give me this moral high ground junk. California is full of overeducated liberals who think they're little decisions will affect the country. Give me a break.
Joan J. Strong May 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM
@americathefree -- There's great news: here in the USA you have this choice: it's called PRIVATE SCHOOL. God bless America! (Y'all can see why the KKK loves Charter schools!).
Joan J. Strong May 21, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Bill, I'm here to tell you that according to one of the key founders of the Charter movement and according to the chartering superintendent of Bullis Charter School--and according to me and my opinion for what little that's worth--that Charter schools are NOT a solution to ANYTHING besides selfish parents who want something better for *their* kids at the expense of everybody else. Please see: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?pagination=false
Joan J. Strong May 21, 2012 at 10:18 PM
@americathefree -- Oh by the way, California was the second state to pass Charter laws and it was passed by a "bunch of overeducated liberals". Our little decisions here went on to affect the whole country. Break given.
Moved Here for the Schools May 25, 2012 at 05:50 AM
On the SCCOE website, guidelines regarding consideration of countywide charter petitions are given: "In order to approve a petition for a countywide charter, the Board must find that the charter school will benefit its target pupil population". I think the County should be able to explain how they feel that granting BCS' charter for another 5 years last October, rather than let it flourish without taxpayer money as the private school it really is, benefits the nine tenths of Los Altos school children who are not not at BCS but who are in principle its target pupil population.


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