Mountain View Voice

News - December 2, 2011

Los Altos district continues to battle Bullis

by Nick Veronin

The years-long legal battle between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is not over yet, and the litigation could continue for years.

After a state appellate court recently overturned a lower court decision in favor of the Los Altos School District, the district has decided that it will attempt to make its case before the California Supreme Court, the district's superintendent said. If the state's highest court accepts the appeal, it may take several years before everything is finally resolved.

The case began back in September 2008. Bullis' lawyers claimed that the district had not equitably accounted for all of its land and facilities, short-changing the charter school and violating Prop. 39 in the process. The charter lost the initial lawsuit, which was filed with the Santa Clara County Superior Court, but later won in an appeal to the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District.

The Los Altos School District is now contesting the judgment of the appeals court. The district asked the Sixth District appeals court to reconsider its decision; the court refused, and now LASD plans petition the state Supreme Court to hear the case.

"The needs of the district students are not represented in the latest decision," said Jeff Baier, the district's superintendent. "We believe that there are serious errors with the decision."

Baier said that the district would likely spend between $60,000 and $70,000 battling the appellate court decision if the state Supreme Court hears the case. The superintendent said that the price tag is well worth it.

"We certainly hope they will hear our case," Baier said, acknowledging that the court may refuse to hear the district's challenge of the appellate court ruling. "We think the ruling, as it stands, has adverse implications for our district. We're taking the legal action we believe is necessary to ensure the needs of our students are met. Truly, it's about balancing the interests of both the students who attend Bullis Charter School with the interest of the students who attend the Los Altos School District schools."

Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis board of directors, said he would be surprised if the court decided to hear the case.

At least four of the seven justices from the state Supreme Court must vote to hear the case. "I'd be amazed if there was anything from the appellate court that would interest four or more of the justices," Moore said. "I have no idea what they're going to argue next."

Moore said that the appellate court was very clear in its ruling. He said he thinks the district is only trying to delay the inevitable by exhausting every legal maneuver it has at its disposal before finally providing the charter school with what it is legally obligated to provide.

The district must file its petition with the state Supreme Court by Dec. 6. If and when a petition is filed, the high court will decide whether it will accept the case by February 2012.

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