Mountain View Voice

News - January 24, 2014

LASD can't force Bullis to move, judge rules

Charter school wins latest round against Los Altos district

by Nick Veronin

The Los Altos School District may not force Bullis Charter School to move to a site outside the district's boundaries, a Santa Clara County judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Franklin Bondonno ruled last week that BCS could move to the Raynor Activity Center site in Sunnyvale — an option LASD officials began exploring early last year — but that the charter school would have to agree to the move first. And that's not going to happen, according to BCS officials.

At the beginning of 2013, the school district began looking at the possibility of acquiring the Raynor Activity Center — a 22-classroom, 3.7-acre campus in Sunnyvale. Doug Smith, president of the LASD board of trustees, said that the intent was to relocate Bullis to the site permanently.

Bullis officials did not like the idea. In late April, shortly after the district put down a $50,000 security deposit to claim a spot at the Raynor bidding table, the charter school released a statement accusing LASD of discriminating against its students.

At the time, Bullis board chairman Ken Moore said his school would not be moved to Raynor, which is located at 1500 Partridge Ave., about six miles from Blach Junior High School — the nearest portion of the charter school's split campus.

In an effort to get the courts to validate the district's plan, LASD lawyers filed for declaratory relief with the county's Superior Court. Bullis' legal team filed a counter lawsuit, and both cases were eventually combined on May 31 last year.

Because the charter school was against the idea of moving to Raynor, Bondonno ruled that LASD officials could not relocate BCS to the Sunnyvale site. LASD, the judge wrote, "may offer a site outside its boundaries to a charter school under Proposition 39 only if the charter school requests such a site and only if that request is in conformity to the school's charter."

Moore was pleased with Bondonno's ruling.

"This is exactly what I expected," he told the Voice — reiterating sentiments expressed in the spring of 2012 — that in pursuing the Raynor site, LASD officials were trying to hurt Bullis. "I'm thankful the judge saw through their real motive, which is basically to continue to discriminate against public charter school students."

Doug Smith, president of the LASD board of trustees, denied that the district was discriminating against BCS students when he and his colleagues were considering the Raynor Activity Center. "It was an attempt to try to figure out what options are available to us to try to solve a problem that's been going on for way too long," he said.

Email Nick Veronin at nveronin@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Incompetence, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This was a rank waste of the taxpayers' money. The school board should have just consulted and trusted its own lawyers. There is a clear attorney general's opinion that school district's in the state can't buy any land that is not located within their district. This decision didn't rely on that, but lately school board members have shown their understanding of that fact. They didn't get this info from the court case! They knew it all along.


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