Mountain View Voice

News - September 21, 2012

Bullis files another lawsuit against LASD

by Nick Veronin

Bullis Charter School's legal team has filed another lawsuit against the Los Altos School District in an effort to get a judge to compel the district to provide the charter school with more facilities.

Shortly after the suit was filed, The Huttlinger Alliance — an organization that represents the interests of pro-LASD schools community members in the ongoing dispute — released a statement condemning the legal action.

The latest lawsuit was filed in order to avoid unnecessary legal procedures, according to Arturo Gonzalez, the charter school's lawyer. Gonzalez said he simply wanted to keep things moving forward rather than wait for California Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas to decide whether she has jurisdiction to hear Bullis' last motion to force the district to provide the charter school with what Bullis officials call "reasonably equivalent facilities."

On Aug. 30 both educational organizations presented arguments to Lucas. During that hearing, LASD lawyer Ray Cardozo maintained that the judge does not have jurisdiction to even rule on the "motion to compel," an argument that Lucas seemed receptive to.

Cardozo argued that the charter school needed to file another lawsuit. In a response to the motion to compel, the district's legal team wrote that it objected to the charter school's attempt to "challenge the district's offer of facilities for the 2012-13 school year via a postjudgment motion," referring to the decision handed down by the appeals court ruling.

"They're trying to drag their feet," Gonzalez said, explaining the reasoning behind the latest lawsuit in an interview with the Voice. "I want to get rid of this nonsense."

Gonzalez said that he is not sure when Lucas will rule on whether she has jurisdiction in the case, and that he doesn't want to wait for that ruling. "Let's just go," he said.

Gonzalez said he wrote LASD's lawyer to request that the two sides meet out of court and attempt to reach a resolution without a judge involved. "They refused to have any discussions and so we are going to resolve it in court," he said.

According to Huttlinger Alliance President Elena Shea, her group has "repeatedly called for the people in our community to do what the BCS and LASD boards have been unable to do — come together and negotiate in a respectful, dignified way to allocate educational facilities."

Noah Mesel, an alliance board member, said he had heard there was some form of lawyer-to-lawyer communication about negotiating outside of the courtroom, but to his knowledge there have been no serious moves to get parents from either side of the Bullis-LASD debate to sit down together and attempt to come to a consensus.

"To be clear, we believe it's time for the litigators to step aside," Mesel said. "In my experience, as a business person and a father, you don't usually get the best results by raising your voice and making threats. And that is, unfortunately, the style of a litigator. You get better results for the long term by bringing people together in a constructive way."

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