March 27, 2012:
For Immediate Release
Contact: Christine Schneider, Larson Communications
Los Altos School District Required to Provide Equitable Facilities for 2012-13 School Year
Los Altos, CA - The Honorable Patricia Lucas of the Superior Court of the State of California issued a judgment, in an order filed March 23, 2012, that requires the Los Altos School District to provide Bullis Charter School with a school site that complies with Proposition 39 and its regulations. This order will affect the 2012-13 facilities offer for Bullis Charter School, as the Court has retained jurisdiction to issue additional orders "necessary and proper for the complete enforcement" of compliance by the District.
This new order declares that "The District violated Proposition 39 and its regulations by, among other things, housing Bullis in-District students on a temporary campus with significantly less per-in-District student space than at comparison group schools..." Proposition 39, passed into law in 2000, states that, "public school facilities should be shared fairly and equally among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools."
"The time is now for the Los Altos School District board members to ensure that all public school students in our community are given access to equivalent facilities," said Ken Moore, Bullis' Board Chair. "The District must amend its 2012-13 facilities offer to make it legally compliant, as the current offer proposes that we serve 439 students on a site that was deemed insufficient for 327 students by the California Court of Appeal."
According to the order, the District must:
- Provide Bullis with reasonably equivalent facilities;
- Utilize actual building size and outdoor space when conducting equivalency analysis, ending the practice of using "standard" room sizes;
- Measure all outdoor space when conducting equivalency analysis;
- Offer Bullis facilities, such as childcare facility and amphitheater, that are reasonably equivalent to those of comparison schools, and;
- End its practice of charging Bullis to share space, as it ignores established sharing agreements.
"Because of the landmark Bullis Proposition 39 ruling, many school districts across California are now recognizing their legal responsibility to provide equitable and permanent facilities offers for charter schools," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "The Bullis Charter School v. Los Altos School District decision marks a significant win for all charter public school students in California. It is now undeniable that all 412,000 students enrolled in charter public schools deserve equal access to facilities."
"This order marks the completion of a long and arduous legal process to get a school district to comply with the law," said Morrison & Foerster partner Arturo Gonzalez, who tried the case on behalf of Bullis. "We are hopeful that the Los Altos school board will stop playing legal chess and finally provide Bullis with a reasonable site."
The proposed 2012-13 facilities offer for Bullis Charter School from the Los Altos School District splits the Bullis student population between two campuses, with K-6 graders on one site and 7th and 8th grade students attending school on a campus miles away. According to Proposition 39, facilities must be contiguous, meaning that the school must be located on one school or an adjacent school site.
After years of being denied reasonably equivalent facilities, Bullis Charter School filed a petition for relief with the lower court in 2009. The California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District unanimously overturned a previous lower court ruling, finding that the facilities provided by the Los Altos School District did not comply with Proposition 39. The California Supreme Court later unanimously denied review of the decision.
About Bullis Charter School Bullis Charter School (www.bullischarterschool.com) is a K-8 public charter school serving the Los Altos School District (LASD) community. The charter school was founded in 2003 by LASD parents who were determined to have a high-quality public school option for their children. Currently serving more than 450 students, Bullis is the top-performing public charter elementary school in California. Bullis equips its students with the skills needed to compete in a 21st century global environment, including Mandarin language instruction, leadership training and a focus on engineering and technology.
About the California Charter Schools Association The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and over 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.