Mountain View Voice

Opinion - January 31, 2014

Lawyers only winners in Bullis, LASD spat

Will the day ever come when the persistent battles between Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District are only a distant memory? Will a solution pop up that no one considered before that suddenly seems right for both sides?

Unfortunately, at the present time there are no answers in sight, so it is hardly worth people getting their hopes up about finding a resolution to this long-running dispute. But it is important to realize that while neither the Los Altos district nor Bullis are in any way insolvent, millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted, flowing like water out the door of each campus to pay ongoing legal expenses.

The crux of the dispute revolves around how the school district meets its Proposition 39 obligation, which requires that its land, buildings and other assets must be "shared fairly" with any charter school within its boundaries. Bullis officials interpret that to mean that the district has as an obligation to hand over an entire school campus to the charter school — which LASD officials say they've been trying to make happen, though it's been disputed as to how hard they are actually trying.

Despite a ruling more than a year ago by the state Appellate Court supporting Bullis' assertion that the district must provide essentially the same assets as those at its own school, legal maneuverings have kept the battle going strong without a resolution.

Instead, nearly 500 Bullis students are split between two campuses — Blach Intermediate School and Egan Junior High School — where the children attend classes in portables. The split campus solution has infuriated Bullis, and has resulted in a seemingly endless stream of spats over rules that Bullis students must follow on the respective campuses.

Earlier this week, the Voice asked both sides to estimate their cost of litigation in this dispute so far. Doug Smith, chairman of the LASD board, estimates that the district has spent "a couple of million dollars" on the litigation. He said it is "...nothing short of tragic that this takes money away from the classroom." The sad thing is that LASD is budgeting more than $1.2 million a year on litigation going forward. "The BCS litigation machine shows no signs of letting up," he said.

Bullis was not quite as forthcoming about its legal expenditures. Spokesman Jay Reed said that $1.7 million had been spent, although it is likely that the charter school has laid out about the same amount as LASD, and possibly more.

There are no easy answers, but if the two sides are to get beyond relying on the courts to solve their problem, they will have to agree:

• Bullis is a legal charter school serving students who are primarily residents of the Los Altos School District

• While a state Appellate Court said LASD must provide Bullis essentially the same assets as its own schools, in practice this does not mean that Bullis has the right to occupy an entire district school

• Both schools are committed to excellence, exhibited by students at both schools achieving some of the highest test scores in the state

Over the course of this feud an arbitrated settlement was signed and then collapsed, as have efforts to mount a bond issue to build a school for Bullis. But regardless of what happened before, the sides must keep trying. At this stage, leaders have to ask themselves: What is worse, millions of dollars more spent on litigation, or biting the bullet and accepting a negotiated settlement, where each side will have to give some ground but be able to proceed in peace. Both sides have an opportunity to make 2014 the year that this dispute is put behind them, so there no longer is a need to spend this kind of money on wasteful litigation.


Posted by LASD Taxpayer, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:18 am

Sadly it is wishful thinking that there will be any resolution to this other than via the courts. As shown by LASD's refusal to abide by the Appellate Court decision -- essentially forcing BCS to sue for compliance -- the money spent by both sides will continue.

I ask myself why is LASD so determined to put BCS out of business, to make it so very difficult to be a BCS family?

Sadly the only answer that makes sense is that they are being influenced by the California Teachers' Union. The CTA funds the LASD Trustee elections ensuring that their candidates win and perpetuate the ridiculousness. As the real stories behind documentaries such as "Waiting for Superman" illustrate, the Union is afraid of schools that do things a different way, including performance based pay and no lifetime employment via tenure after only two years on the job.

What a's time for voters to say enough. Elect candidates that truly are independent and can work for a solution rather than perpetuating the outdated status quo. It is only with an equitable solution that students will come first.

Posted by LASD Taxpayer Too, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:35 pm

The lawyers are winning in terms of money and I agree that they are the only winners. I do think that Doug Smith vastly underestimates his expenses to date. The LASD district has increased its legal budget to well over $1Million per year, and the protracted lawsuit originated in 2009. The district is still fighting that ruling, now 5 years later. I think it must be more like $6Million they have spent.

All Bullis can ask for is equivalent facilities--they cannot ask for more. The reason they ask for a single particular school is to avoid getting bogged down in details in the filling of their request. That would be the CHEAPEST option for the district, but if the district wants to avoid redrawing lines so that one school is freed for district-wide use, it can spend more and create a solution they like better. But Bullis has not got a legal right to be the one to request that they spend this extra money. The district keeps misconstruing this to raise public ire against Bullis.

There are a couple of school board members who are out to destroy the charter school, and they foolishly think they can do this by the contrived arrangements of the facilities offered. This is a futile effort and it is what costs all the legal expenses. One thing they tried was threatening to provide the facilities in Gilroy or South San Jose. It's obvious what the thinking was there. They took that matter to court to try to get a ruling that this would be legal, in order to intimidate parents from choosing Bullis as their kids school.

So, I have to say, I think the problem is these board members. They have manipulated the situation to try to make it look like Bullis is an agressor, but that's not so. The things that the district is currently denying to Bullis wouldn't cost the district any more money. They have grass and blacktop at Blach that sits idle for 30-50% of the day. But they don't let the Bullis kids move around at recess and expect them to stay confined in their classrooms and in the walkways/ramps/porches right outside. That's an example of their strategy.

The question is, when will the courts be able to take action against these tactics, which are illegal and discriminatory on the part of these two board members.

Posted by LASD Taxpayer Too, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Another thing to note is that when Bullis asks for a specific school, it picks Covington which was a junior high school and only converted to an elementary school in 2002 or so. At that point they felt it was too close to Gardner Bullis school so they closed that school for 3-4 years (just had kindergarten at it for some of those years) and then reopened it around 2005, even though it is so close to Covington. The original plans of the districts elementary schools back in the 50's did not have a need for an elementary school in the area of Covington. Back when the district was at his max elementary schools, and also at the time back when they previously were at this enrollment level, there was no elementary school at Covington. Since that time, the district has decided that it didn't need 3 jr high schools for 1100 students (makes sense) and so it closed Covington for 10 years and decided to make it into an elementary school. But the students at Covington used to attend Gardner, or Almond, or Springer, or Loyola, back in time. So, it is a logical school to think of drawing out of attendance boundaries.

Beyond that it is 16 acres where the normal school is just 10 acres. Still further, the Los Altos city council has offered to talk about making the park adjacent to it (another 5 acres) available to create still more space at Covington, so yet another option exists of operating 2 school at Covington. That park was once a catholic elementary school.

Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Thank you MVV for your efforts to bring focus here. Pivotal, yet unreported here, is that fact that BCS proposed to LASD in Jan 2013 and several times in writing since, a solution for peaceful co-existence - which would not require a single LASD student to relocate and not close any existing LASD site. It would also make a bond, which BCS is on record as happy to support, optional. The only requirements are that LASD follow the law and meet basic needs without interfering in the BCS program. The deafening silence from LASD on this proposal is in sharp contrast to their ongoing hostile tactics, (banish BCS to Raynor, abuse of CEQA with manufactured caps for BCS only, and inflammatory anti-charter blogs by LASD board members - to name a few) Clearly LASD is not interested in peaceful co-existence. Where is the true leadership from LASD, the much more powerful entity in this equation? What sort of role model is LASD for the students they are elected to serve? We deserve much better from the LASD BOT.

Posted by No quarter..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm

@LASD Parent, also pivotal and also unreported here is the fact that BCS has siphoned off well over $10 million in public funding over the last decade and yet serves zero economically disadvantaged students and fails to serve proportional amounts of special needs and spanish speaking ELL students as well. Let's also not forget that none of the recent facilities offers have yet to be found out of compliance with Prop 39. Just because BCS is un-happy, doesn't mean the offers are not legal...

BCS was founded as a taxpayer funded charter for the rich and well connected within the district. And enrollment still largely reflects that founding principal today. Until they fix their operating model and do what charters were intended to do -- serve disadvantaged and under-performing student groups (proportional to the population of the district) -- they should be given no quarter when it comes to things like this. Unless they abandon their segregationist policies and their anti-LASD, anti-community rhetoric, they should be made to fight tooth and nail for every square inch of facilities.

Posted by Almond School Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:14 pm

LASD Taxpayer's conjecture that the teacher's union is influencing the LASD Board is just silly. The LASD Board is not carefully guarding the keys to their campuses because that is what the vast majority of the citizens who elected them want them to do. Meanwhile, BCS has failed to utterly failed to convince the community that it is worthy of more than it has been given.

Posted by Almond School Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

There was an error in my previous comment. The LASD Board *is* carefully guarding the keys. (Remove the word "not" in my previous comment.)

Posted by Public Citizen, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:58 pm

The teachers' unions all affect the LASD board through their influence on public policy state-wide. For example, every teacher has their retirement subsidized such that the state pays as much cost directly as falls to the district. Rules against laying off more senior teachers mean specialized teachers with more appropriate training can't be retained when downsizing needs to occur. It goes on and on. Much of the rhetoric against charter schools is developed by these teachers' unions, whether the issues are valid or not. Policies which siphon funding to ineffective school districts in some large cities regardless of outcome end up costing the state more money which then reduces what it can spend in other districts.

Posted by To Tell The Truth, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 7:02 pm

It is ridiculous to pick a number and say Bullis spent $10M like that is something bad. Those same students would have received $18M had they stayed in LASD schools. The LASD money is not spent equally on all students. Supposedly the district spends more on the low SES students, the ELL students, and the Special Education students. The cost of all the special education students together is a $2000 component of the $11K that LASD spends per student. When a student is transfered to Bullis, the money that follows is only around $5K (or has been over time). So the money to serve the disadvantaged is being left with the district, not taken along with the charter student, regardless of whether he or she is ELL or Special Education or low SES.

Posted by BCS Supporter, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:00 pm

LASD, please improve in your curriculum first! all LASD parents are getting out from your LASD schools because you do not have good curriculum for us. You are wasting our tax $$ on all these legal matters.

Posted by Inspector Detector, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:55 pm

No Quarter doesn't have a nickel's worth of sense. They simply do not understand how schools are funded. Let's see if I can clear this up.

First let's start with which school is better bargain for the taxpayers:

Imagine there are two public school students that live in the Los Altos School District, LASD and BCS. LASD gets $11,000 from tax payers. BCS gets $6000. LASD attends 1000 hours of school/year. BCS attends 1350 hours of school/year. So tax payers pay less to educate BCS but BCS ends up getting 30 percent more time in the classroom. Neat trick, but easy to accomplish when you are not controlled by union work rules and regulations.

Why does LASD get so much more per student? LASD is a Basic Aide District, this means that it is not funded on ADA ( Average Daily Attendance) It could have 500 students or 5000 and it will still get about the same amount of revenues. BCS is funded based on ADA. It gets a fixed amount per student. If you are a Trustee or Administrator in a Basic Aide district with a huge pot of money that does not depend on how many students you have the last thing you want to do is increase the number of students you have. In fact you want them to leave and go to private school. The pot of money grows or shrinks based on property tax revenues. Your benefits and salary can increase if there are less employees to share them with and you can fund a really sweet benefits package that you can take with you into to retirement.

In a very high SES district like Los Altos this becomes a really good deal. All you need to do is maintain the schools at a certain level by getting good test scores and your set. There is not too work to do - you have a super short school day, and easy to educate kids. The parents spend tons on after school programs like Kumon and Sylvan, which jack up the scores. You have a few poor kids and ELL students that don't do well, but it's not enough to lower scores so it works out okay. The last think you want to do is offer anything like a magnet school, your goal is to reduce the amount of students, not increase them. The teachers union loves this as well. Since it is controlled by the senior teachers. All you really need to do is keep the declining enrollment inline with teacher retirements, or lay off the younger teachers either one will work. Then you end up with a bigger and bigger slice of pie. While it sounds a little weird it is exactly what is happening in LASD.

BCS throws a big wrench in there, because they make you look bad. Students start leaving, which is good, if they go to private school, bad if they go to BCS because then they take about $6000 dollars with them. Theoretically if these students went to an LASD school they would cost the district $11,000 dollars, but the district doesn't spend all that money in it's classrooms, a big chunk goes to pay retiree benefits. It also goes to pay for the extra students that they bring in from out side of the district including those of school employees.

BCS does save the district money. Each student that transfers to BCS is only taking $6000 of the $!!000 that the district has to spend on them. The problem is, they just don't spend that much on educating students. As long as they have good test scores they feel like they have accomplished their mission. Money goes to teacher and administrator salaries and benefits. It doesn't go extra enrichment or support programs that might actually make school more interesting. It also doesn't go to a longer school day. That's the sad truth. Terrible way to run a district.

Posted by Enough with Roode's ramblings, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Wow David Roode! Completely bogus argument you have there based on no facts. How do you have the tenacity to make the same arguments, in the same wording, across multiple social sites and message boards? How many hours a day do you spend working out your little theories? Do you keep long written notes ready to copy paste into every forum, because it sure reads that way across multiple aliases? One thing is obvious to everyone in your diatribes is that you have ZERO experience with our schools. No kids, no interaction with parents, and no interaction with the teachers and staff of either LASD or BCS. David, go enjoy life and do something else with your early retirement from Castlight.

Posted by Inspector Detector, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 7:59 am

What's wrong Enough? It's hard when it is all spelled out, isn't it? Don't kid yourself parents, LASD is designed to benefit the employees first and foremost. The Trustees make sure it happens. Listen to Tammy's rants. She is against anything that might hold teachers accountable.

Posted by BCS observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 9:29 am

@Inspector, I can make the same baseless claims about BCS. Too bad BCS board meetings don't get any airtime and news coverage like LASDs. Listening to the incendiary rants from Janet and Andrea you would think BCS is designed to benefit the charter school movement first and foremost. The BCS board make sure it happens. Listen to the endless rants by Janet and Andrea. They are against anything that might hold the charter school board accountable.

Sounds just as foolish as your comment, whether true or not? These arguments against LASD and their teachers are unfounded ignorant arguments propagated throughout the forums by the likes of David, Ron, and Lynn. People need to focus on what makes the education of our kids a success, not the above. There is enough fault for this bickering to go around.

Posted by LASD Overtaxpayer, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

LASD has two parcel taxes that together generate about $9 Million per year. The second such tax has now basically turned into a pay source for the lawyers involved. $2 Million or more per year assessed on all of us taxpayers so that the board of trustees can make a point.

In the comments above about the city offering to discuss shared use of Covington, something else should be noted. This option gets ignored by the board of trustees. They have previously discussed sharing the existing 16 acres campus which is also home to a district warehouse and other district office functions. They basically ruled that out because there wasn't enough room in their view to house even 1.5 schools. So you'd think they'd be very eager to take up the option to increase the total acreage there to 21, presumably with little cost.

But note that when the joint city/schools subcommittee of the board and city council got together and this option was specifically mentioned, there was no appreciation shown. Doug Smith didn't even mention this option in any school board meeting except once to a neighbor making a comment. In that exchange, he tried to turn it into a suggestion that the entire Bullis Charter school be housed on the 5 acres of Rosita Park, which was clearly not what the city had in mind. That idea is not workable and has all sorts of problems. He is choosing to purposely mis-hear the offer. The point is the idea of a synergy between the existing LASD 16 acres and the city's 5 acres. This idea was apparently not even considered by the school district's growth task force. They ruled out any use of Covington fairly quickly, with no good explanation. Then later the city came along and made their offer/suggestion.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Geographically, it would make sense to move Egan Middle School to the Covington campus and site BCS on the Egan "permanents". Then open a 'new' Covington Elementary on the current location of the BCS portables. That would reduce traffic and solve the facilities dilema without a huge bond. LASD wouldn't go that route because it would make the BCS middle school program too attractive.

Posted by BCS observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Can you guys for once try to make an argument that doesn't end with a line about how such an action would make BCS too attractive and therefore LASD will never allow it! This assumption that one side is out to destroy the other gets us nowhere. Seriously, it's as absurd as saying the BCS board will never remove the Hills geopreference or go out of their way to recruit special needs children because it would affect their bottom line.

Egan-> Covington, BCS -> Egan, Covington -> BCS portables solves nothing and is no different than where we are now. You replace crowding on one site to someone else and further increase crowding on a higher density site as NEC grows. This type of solution is right up there when BCS parents promoted a swap with Santa Rita. It's a short sighted solution that was based on a vindictive line of reasoning.

Solution is everyone come together and work to find a new home. At one point BCS (Francis) was willing to accept long term permanent facilities at both Egan and Blach. BCS board has been part of the site search committee too, so they definitely know of the realistic possibilities that are out there. Surprise, BCS doesn't discuss that effort in their public meetings. Why, because admitting so would help LASDs cause in finding a site solution without giving up an existing school? Oh, sorry, just used your baseless line of reasoning there.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

If LASD really cared about finding a facilities solution, they wouldn't have just declared an impasse to the recent mediation work. They are chasing red herrings and slinging mud. The 2014-15 preliminary offer is grossly inadequate and downright vindictive. Don't even insinuate that LASD gives a crap about NEC either.

Posted by BCS Observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Francis insisted on making these meetings private to the public in order to continue, and so LASD obliged to move the progress forward. Exactly how it went south, no one but a few really know. BCS has yet to release any details to the public. I'm inclined to believe Tammy's letter to the school community.

If you want to improve the 2014/15 facility offer then encourage your board to work with LASD and prove its enrollment projections are valid. Yet the BCS board refuses to hand over the student and application data needed for that verification. WHY? Great, you have parents of 60 kids signing a petitioning "promising" they will be back. Year after year BCS has over predicted enrollment by a much bigger margin than LASDs under prediction. Thanks to the lawsuits, it's been spelled out ever more clearly that LASD has to be exactingly formulaic in its prop 39 offer. It sucks to treat kids as numbers. But BCS board can help by releasing all that enrollment and application data rather than saying "trust us, we'll meet our projection", because really you haven't.

Another thing to help out whatever offer is accepted: Work with LASD over the summer ensuring the facilities will be ready. Last summer the BCS board reneged on the Egan and Blach grade use commitment, letting their BCS parent community know ahead of time but not LASD. Besides a possible Brown Act violation in which this was decided, that lack of cooperative planning on BCSs part was the catalyst to this FUA mess.

"Don't even insinuate that LASD gives a crap about NEC either." People like you, Matt, are then beyond hope if you're going to keep hiding behind that statement.

Posted by Belinda, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 9:09 pm

The LASD Trustees are useless. They waste our tax dollars on senseless games with BCS. LASD is run for and by the employees. They care little about educating children. The BCS drama last summer could have been easily solved by moving the private preschool, Stepping Stones, to another location. They could have gone back to Grant Park. BCS could have but more kids there, as they requested, and less kids at Egan…

What most people do not realize is:
1. Many LASD employees have their kids at Stepping Stones.
2. LASD uses facilities as a way to attack BCS. They don't really care one whit for the children at BCS.

So yes that's right, Stepping Stones is yet another employee benefit. A benefit that is now going to make another round of lawsuits. They spend on their time fighting BCS, when all they had to do is move the preschool. Really. That would have solved most of the problem. Instead we have complete insanity.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

"I'm inclined to believe Tammy's letter to the school community. ". I know! It is hard to believe Tammy, but I think you are right. LASD was pinning a long-term solution on enrollment socio-demographics that are influenced by facilities. It is a catch 22 situation and completely irrelevant to the facilities problem.

And trust me, BCS Observer; I still have hope. I will work my butt off this election year to get at least one reasonable person on the LASD board to care about NEC. By the way, I signed that petition regarding the 60 BCS seventh graders next year. My wife didn't sign, so my kid was not double counted as inferred by some voices. You don't think 75 sixth graders this year will turn into at least 60 seventh graders for a program that blows LASD's out of the water? I recently saw a post by anti-BCS mother (a former LASD student) who thanked her Egan home-ec teacher for being able to sew. It was so ironic, because Egan doesn't teach that anymore. But BCS does. My son sewed his own Halloween costume this year. How cool is that?

Posted by Damage Done, a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 2, 2014 at 6:23 am

The stigma of having a kid at BCS will hang heavy for years thanks to the lawyers. As soon as hey have equal percentages of ESL and special needs students, to match the rest of the district, we can talk about equality. I will always groan and roll my eyes when I hear someone "singing the praises" of BCS.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 2, 2014 at 7:03 am

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Choose the school that is right for your kid. If you are worried about upsetting your neighbors, you are doing something wrong as a parent.

Posted by Not Damaged, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

Heh, Damaged Done, I don't feel stigmatized. So that's not going to work. If that is what you and who ever is working with you are trying to do, then my hope is that you start looking for a new home elsewhere. No one likes haters. That's what makes communities unpleasant places to live. I am sure your neighbors appreciate you spreading the word, what a fun and welcoming neighborhood you must have.

Bikes2work has it spot on - Choose the best school program for your child. If your neighbors are spreading hate, please ignore them.

Posted by Mindless..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

@Belinda just proved @BCS Observer's point perfectly. The mindless, baseless claims about the LASD board, about the alleged control the teachers union exerts on the board, and allegations that they "care little about educating children" reflects much more on Belinda and her kind than they do on LASD leadership. Would freeing up the Stepping Stones space enable more room for BCS at Blach? Sure. Maybe that could be part of the longer term plan. But my guess is that the Pre-School probably has a lease with the district. And as most reasonable people know, a lease is a contractual commitment not easily broken by either party. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised that BCS supporters don't care much about legal agreements given their willingness to flagrantly disregard the FUA...

Posted by Saving Face , a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Did you know that Bullis Charter School v Los Altos School District is one of the most frequently cited cases in Charter School Litigation? It's helping other Charter Schools gain access to facilities.

Now imagine how hard that must be on our poor LASD Trustees when they go to events with Trustees from other Districts. Not to mention the California Teacher's Association that controls politics in California. I doubt they are very popular.

The solution ----- keep litigating until you get a win, any win. I think the Trustee's thinking might be along the lines of:

"What to do, what to do? I know, let's keep litigating! - It makes us important and it delays things, at least until we get re-elected. It's going to cost us some money but it's not our own money… tax revenues are up. and we have that parcel tax increase. We don't really need more computers anyway, we can make do. We don't need to send teachers to any training, they can just um ilearn! Also LAEF and PTA can chip in more. Our schools are completely fabulous, no reason to offer a more interesting and challenging curriculum. Yeah that's the ticket, keep litigating, then the other School Board Members from around the state, not to mention the CTA will love us!" "We Rock" or well something like that.

So one of the reasons to keep up this sham is to save face. That's politics and its unfortunate that our local kids are getting less because of it. Time for a new board that cares about kids instead of teachers unions and saving face.

Posted by And then there is Mr. Smith, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

"Lawyers only winners in Bullis, LASD spat" Maybe, maybe not. Isn't Mr. Smith's father a partner in the law firm that represents LASD?

Posted by Belina, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Leases can be broken. Easy to do. Especially when the California Ed code clearly states that private operations need to leave if the location is needed for students. Which it is.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm

The consortium of wealthy parents that support the attacks on the charter school are mired in their own local view and don't see the real world. They are in a wealthy enclave that operates its public schools as if they were private schools. Not only that, but they are lacking insofar as their curriculum and operational methods. Facilities are not the most important thing about schools, but that's what tops the list for LASD.

Just about every criticism that is mustered up to attack the charter schoolis more applicable to the greater LASD as a whole. It has few disadvantaged kids even though it sits right beside Mountain View Whisman which is 50% disadvantaged.

By rights what should happen is that these two districts should be combined. More charter schools should form. These would serve the whole high school district and the disadvantaged students would be eligible to apply to them. The combined district would be 25% disadvantaged. It's ironic that in all the legal maneuvers, this is not an end which is likely. But still, it does make the most sense, and at least it would accomplish something positive overall.

Posted by Wondering, a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I heard a rumor that drugs or some sort of narcotics were found on the Santa Rita campus near the lunch tables. Any truth to this?

Posted by BCS Observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm

@Perspective. "Just about every criticism that is mustered up to attack the charter schoolis more applicable to the greater LASD as a whole. It has few disadvantaged kids even though it sits right beside Mountain View Whisman which is 50% disadvantaged. By rights what should happen is that these two districts should be combined."

Well that looks like a copy & paste David Roode quote, just saying! Maybe David can advocate for Bullis to modify their charter to give preference to disadvantaged Mountain View Whisman kids. Gotta prove their model can work on kids with real disadvantages or disabilities, rather than being a $5000 choice for otherwise equivalent education.

@Wondering, You're twisted and sick for throwing that baseless comment in. B

Posted by Stop the silly claims, a resident of Gemello
on Feb 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Can we just stop this silly back and forth? "Well LASD has 5% low SES students and BCS has zero."

Until last year when LASD stopped participating in the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program they had two percent. That's righ,t somehow magically as rents have shot up LASD grew to a whopping 5 percent low SES students In fact the total number doubled in one short year, and some schools that didn't have any suddenly had 10. Does that seem in anyway likely? In fact at a few schools the enrollment declined but the SES increased. Interesting isn't it?

What really is happening is that If LASD don't participate in FRLP then they basically get to make numbers up, which is what they are doing.

Anyway it's just a poor argument anyway you slice it. You just end up looking foolish.

Zero precent=two percent= five percent THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. Mountain View Whisman has almost 50% low income. There's a real difference for you. LASD just places almost all of their low income students at Almond and Santa Rita, and bunch of them at Santa Rita are the children of grad students.

Posted by BCS Is Awesome, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

@BCS Observer: Wow, you sure give David a lot of credit. Do you think the charter school was his idea too?

@Wondering: Where did you hear this rumor? It's a secluded park setting not visible from the street, so it could be a sort of a hotbed for nefarious activity. Do they have surveillance cameras? It seems odd that contraband would be abandoned.

Posted by Stop the silly claims, a resident of Gemello
on Feb 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

@ Wondering

What is that about? Stop the silly rumors.

Posted by BCS Observer, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

(Post removed. Personal attack.)

Posted by Trevor L, a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

@ Damage Done, a "resident" of Bailey Park

First a suggestion:
1. Why don't you just select Another Community? Do you even know where Bailey Park is? Hint: Bailey Road is called something else now... I suggest you learn some MV Geography if you are going to make fake MV claims.

And some Questions:
1. Stigma? Who cares? I could care less what you or anyone else thinks of me. Besides the majority of the families in my neighborhood have their kids at BCS. I'm sure that you have everyone up their in Bailey Park in uproar though.
2. Don't get me started on that English as a Second Language Business. Apparently LASD is keeping kids designated as English Learners the entire time they are in LASD schools. Yeah, that's a great program you have there. Go to school for nine years and still never learn to speak english, awesome, completely fantastic!

Posted by Trevor L, a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Sorry - I didn't really have any questions for you Damaged - just comments. So here is a question:

What used to be located at the end of Bailey Road?

Posted by Straight Talker, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 9:14 am

Bullis parents, supporters, teachers and board members must be slow to learn the simple truth that this community will never, ever, ever accept them as legitimate because of their genesis, history, legalistic strategy and PR shenanigans. Forget that they've spent many millions trying to out-spend LASD on every front. They are a social pariah and will forever be. The district is complying with the law and Bullis is unhappy -- too bad. You made your bed, go take a dirt nap.

Posted by Bullis Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

I have need to be accepted by you "Straight Talker" no one that I know wants to hang out with your um..... club. What you are doing is causing strife in our community. People are finally figuring it out. You do not want to share school facilities and the teachers unions does;t want to make changes to the LASD program. They have a sweet deal right now. With LASD admin, Trustees, PTA and LAEF firmly under their heel.

Now this group of LASD parents and LASD Trustees are trying to take over an important community asset, Hillview Community Center. I am sure that will make all the community members that are not in LASD schools super happy.
The truth is that BCS has zero interest in Hillview. That is not a good place to put a school. LASD needs to redraw attendance boundaries and provide a school to the NEC.

Posted by laughing, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 3, 2014 at 10:55 am

[Post removed. Please don't attack other posters.]

Posted by BCS Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Whoops -

Forgot a crucial no in that first sentence- too quickly entered.

I have NO need to be accepted by Straight Talker and the other members of the LASD Gangsters.

Posted by LASD Gangsta..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm

@Bullis Parent, it's abundantly clear that you and your kind don't care about "acceptance" from the community. Otherwise you would either never have enrolled in BCS or you would be demanding that your own Board eliminate the elitist and discriminatory practices that have been a hallmark of BCS from the beginning. There will always be a subset of any population that cares only for themselves and have no qualms about discriminating against certain groups as long as they believe it benefits them and theirs. Sadly, give the growth at BCS, that number in our community is higher than I thought it would be. Hopefully some of you will grow a conscience and re-think your decisions...

Posted by Wondering about Wondering, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm

That's pretty priceless. Stirring up the pot with a drug charge. Well here's one back at you. I've heard BCS parents tell their kids that someday, their LASD peer will be working for them - suggesting superior intellect, career progression, money, etc. Tell me where that stems from. What parent would say, "it's OK Little Johnny. Don't listen to Billy Bob from the local LASD school. Someday he will be working for you at our family business."

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Thugs and gangsta's? At least we're all neighbors. As Robert Frost wrote, "good fences, make good neighbors". Unfortunately, we've built very high fences around this issue and lost sight of our community. That is the really sad part.

Posted by LASD Gangsta..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm

@Bikes -- Look at the post immediately prior to my last one under this name. I'm just responding to the name calling from a BCS supporter here... For what it's worth, I view BCS as less of a "gang" and more of a "cabal".

Web Link

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

And that poster was just responding to a deleted post that called BCS supporters 'thugs'. It is a never ending cycle.

Posted by Smith, Logan, Goines working hard to foster conflict, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Who started the hate your BCS Neighbor Campaign? Look no further than our esteemed Board of Trustees. They started the pot stirring right when they were elected to office - or re-elected in the case of Mr. Goines.

They twisted stats to make it look like BCS has different demographics than other Los Altos Schools.
They have encouraged creating fake stats - In 2009 the ELL numbers shot up dramatically, an increase that did not match actual school population increases. Last year, when LASD stopped using the FRLP for low SES students, the number of low SES students suddenly, magically shot up.

They got a few key PTA and LAEF parents involved as their henchmen who created the hate your neighbor groups.

Nice leadership! Great way to make a happy and healthy community.

Posted by other view, a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:36 pm

For what is worth I don't ascribe that motive to Goinrs.

Posted by Legally speaking, a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:13 am

The fact is, you can quibble about just how much, but there is no doubt that LASD is not living up to their obligation under Prop 39 by quite a bit. And all of this talk about alleged problems with the Bullis enrollment process, which I discount completely, are still no justification for that fact. The fact that people here who defend LASD hark back to that is an example of just how messed up things are. Truly a reason why the whole conflict just keeps lawyers' earnings up. There are ways to dispute the issue of enrollment practices, but withholding Prop 39 space is not on the list. Making that allegation has been used as a stalling tactic to delay correcting the shortfall in LASD space. Also, providing inferior facilities can only worsen the attractiveness to students, including low income. Whether or not LASD is cheating to inflate their numbers of low income, they should still be providing more space. And certainly they should be allowing the BCS kids proper access to outdoor space, blacktop and/or grass, for recess and lunch breaks. Two wrongs don't make a right but in this case the one wrong isn't proven at all, and the other is obvious on the face of it. So the lawyers get to drag on their cases, for a while. But the matter will be addressed by the court of appeals by March, supposedly, and that might reduce the legal fees, unless LASD makes yet another round of appeals.

Posted by Opinions are like, well, you know..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 4, 2014 at 9:40 am

@Legally Speaking -- Are you a lawyer or do you just play one on TV? Because unless you are an appellate court judge, your *opinion* (and that's all it is) about the legality of the LASD facilities offer is worthless. LASD follows a fairly formulaic approach to calculating facilities requirements and it's entirely possible that their offers will be found Prop 39 compliant. Now, in their legal discretion, could they offer more to BCS? Sure. But as long as the BCS operating model results in discriminatory outcomes, and the charter continues with aggressive litigation, why on earth would they offer more? Just because BCS supporters say the facilities offers aren't legal doesn't make it so...

Posted by LASD's logic, a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

How does LASD cheat Bullis on space? Let me count the ways that violate the existing appeal decision. (1) They undercount the Bullis students (2) They overcount the LASD students at the comparison schools so as to reduce the space truly available per district student. (3) They use different methodology in their procedure for #1 and #2 which is a no-no by itself. (4) When they provide space to Bullis, they place restrictions on it that they do not place on the space they keep for themselves. (5) They are completely ignoring the mandata to provide equivalent childcare space at Egan with a convoluted rationale. (6) They just don't count ANY of the students in 5th or 6th grade that they locate at Blach for purposes of #5--a violation by itself. (7) They don't permit Bullis at Blach access to outdoor space at all in the afternoon. (8) They don't let the kids they site at Bullis have any access to outdoor space for lunch and recess DESPITE HAVING PROMISED TO DO SO IN THEIR WRITTEN OFFER. (9) They try to prescribe how Bullis will use the facilities that they are provided, which they are not allowed to do as it interferes with Bullis's program for no reason other than to do that. (10) By their own computation, they are acres short on outdoor space made available to Bullis in direct violation of the decision which allowed them to be short, but only in insignificant ways. What they do is demonstrably and unavoidably very signficant due to the other aspects of the offer (11) They do not count all the hours that facilities at Blach are reserved for Blach students as time that Blach students actually use the facilities for purposes of balancing. This is blatantly inaccurate and results in shortchanging Bullis in yet another forbidden change in methodology since the appeals decision. (12) They illegally require that Bullis discriminate against its out of district students (about 5% of their students) beyond the issue of not counting those students for facilities allocation computation. Not counting is normal, forbidding access is not normal.

Yep, you don't have to be a lawyer to see that this is all bad, and there is so much of it that there will be no doubt that they have been acting in bad faith. In fact, board members have voiced things in public meetings that demonstrate bad faith directly. For example, they have allowed that it is one of their concerns that their offer be restrictive enough that it prevents Bullis from improving on it with their own resources. They have publicly stated that they refuse to improve unless Bullis meets conditions concerning enrollment practices which are already under discussion between Bullis and its chartering agency. This is blatantly contrary to their obligation which requires them to presume that Bullis is due the facilities based solely on their total number of in district students.

Posted by Nice logic..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

First off David, LASD may have a good faith basis for believing their current offers are fully compliant. I'm sure they have lawyers checking their offer against the requirements of the law and the prior rulings. And if so, why would they provide more without commitment from BCS to address their abject failure to serve disadvantaged students within the community? Anything above and beyond bare minimum Prop 39 compliance should absolutely come with "strings attached".

I'm sure BCS's high priced, out of town attorneys will argue every point you raised above. Some may be true, some may not be true. They may in aggregate constitute non-compliance, or they may not. You may whine about it all you want, but until this plays out in court, LASD board should continue to be as conservative on their allocations as possible. On the other hand, if BCS would just make a few basic (not to mention ethical) changes, I'm sure the LASD board would show much more flexibility...

Posted by What Logic?, a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

@LASD's Logic, Why let logic and truth get in your way. Everyone one of your points is either an outright lie or a huge distortion of the events. I think I know why.

To quote from the famous David Roode "at the board meeting (video), I noticed..." Well, unless you talk directly with board staff, are talking directly with a school admin, or on the ground everyday as a parent then you have no clue what is going on. You don't learn everything by watching video feeds and digging through news articles. David, unless you show up at meeting and chat with board members or parents afterwards, or take part first hand in school affairs, the baseless accusations above will remain just that and be seen as an attempt to stir the pot.

Posted by Locale, a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Raoul, you need to remember that a court can take into evidence those videos which are recorded and posted on the web site. Actually being present at a school or at a board meeting is not something which the judge will be able to do. The evidence that will stand will be what is recorded.

Posted by Three Branches, a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I am happy that we have three branches of government. Our Trustees are not doing what prop 39 requires them to do, which is provide equal educational facilities to all public school students in the Los Altos School District, so I am thankful that the courts can step in and stop the abusive behavior.

I am hopeful that it won't only be the lawyers that are the winners.We have some positive results already, kids in charter schools all over California,are gaining better access to facilities because of these lawsuits. Sadly that is not happening here. Instead we have Trustees that engage in questionable behavior, using tax dollars to stall the inevitable court action. Appellate courts are rarely happy when their rulings are flagrantly ignored.

Posted by Lawyers Winners, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I believe the editorial is making the point that even the victorious Bullis students have suffered through the long delays caused by the need to go tot he courts to just achieve what they are entitled to like the other students.

Bullis can never achieve extra, no more than the law requires.

One bright spot is that the existence of the lawsuits has caused the district to treat Bullis better than they otherwise would. That's not saying much since there are still so many bad aspects to their demeanor toward Bullis and this kids do continue to suffer terrible lackings in the basic quality of their facilities. I am not talking about just being in portable buildings, but rather of the many other issues such as just simply having fewer space per student to the point that they are forced to use their library, teacher workrooms, office, etc. in creative ways in order to operate. Luckily LASD provides its students with such a large amount of facilities that this is possible. One question that should be asked is why does LASD have so many idle facilities at each of its schools, during the day. Meanwhile the ones who consistently profit all along are the lawyers on both sides. If only the courts moved a bit faster, this waste could be reduced....

Posted by Wondering, a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm

It's unlikely that BCS would ever ask for Santa Rita because as the FB Group commentary suggests, the preponderance of a transient, high turnover Hispanic population does not conform to BCS' application/registration process (not to mention their overall skimming practices). It's also unlikely that BCS would ever opt for Santa Rita because of the narcotics citations in that area. So yes, I, too would concur that Covington/Rosita seems to be the designated target.

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