http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2012/08/03/new-parent-group-forms-to-oppose-bullis


Mountain View Voice

News - August 3, 2012

New parent group forms to oppose Bullis

by Nick Veronin

A group of parents and concerned citizens have formed a coalition to defend the Los Altos School District against what the members of the "alliance" say is the overzealous and overreaching leadership of Bullis Charter School.

"The Huttlinger Alliance for Education was formed by local Los Altos School District community members — both parents and people in the community who don't have children in the schools — to do what the community thinks is the right thing to protect the top-quality, high-performing schools in the school district," said Noah Mesel, one of the group's founders.

Established in July, the group has not wasted any time in taking action. They have already spent out-of-pocket money to hire lawyers and file papers with the Santa Clara County Superior Court urging the rejection of Bullis' "motion to compel compliance with judgment and writ," which the charter school filed on July 3.

The Bullis motion was not a legal action, per se, but just an official nudge intended to push the courts to take more decisive action in making the Los Altos School District agree to guarantee the charter school a campus within the district by the 2013-14 school year, as officials at Bullis say the court has clearly stated the district must do.

The bottom line, according to Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis board, is that the district continues to ignore the law. BCS is simply trying to get what it is due and the district is obstructing them any way it can.

The district's lawyers aren't so sure, however. After Bullis filed its "motion to compel," the LASD legal team fired back arguing that the district had already agreed to more than enough. "BCS's request to order the closure of a district school has no support in the law," LASD officials said in a July 24 press release.

Mesel and his cohorts — seven community members working to defend the district — agree that LASD should not give up an entire campus. And according to Mesel, plenty of others living within the LASD boundaries share his view — as evidenced by the about 200 signatures of support he says the Huttlinger Alliance for Education has gathered.

As Mesel sees it, "the current motion to compel that Bullis Charter School has filed does overreach." Though he is good friends with many parents of children attending Bullis, and feels that the school has the children's interests at heart, Mesel said he thinks "the leadership of Bullis has taken some extreme positions" and pushed for more than they are entitled to and more than they ought to reasonably expect.

"The district appeared to be going away from the center — away from what we think is a balanced middle ground," he said. "And in an effort to put litigation behind it, the district gave BCS more than what we think is appropriate under the law."

According to him, Bullis has used its considerable resources to drag the district into legal fights it can't afford. "The hundreds of thousands of dollars that Bullis has spent on lawyers and PR professionals shows that these are not people with shallow pockets — they've forced the school district to spend similar amounts of money on lawyers in defense,"" he said.

Moore brushed aside the allegation. "The district has infinite funds compared to us," he said. "I know they like to paint us as having all kinds of money. We have a finite pot of funds." Going to court is not some sort of strategy, aimed at depleting LASD's coffers and forcing them to buckle to BCS demands, he said.

"(Mesel) seems to forget, that the district isn't following the law and all we're trying to do is get a reasonably equivalent share of public school facilities," Moore said.

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