The rub is that Bullis is demanding, and in our opinion should get, one of the district's seven elementary school campuses, rather than be forced to squeeze onto parking lots or other secondary space at different schools. That type of solution is not and should not be acceptable to Bullis, especially when the state Supreme Court in January refused to hear an appeal of the Appellate Court ruling.
But rather than moving toward working out a compromise, the district continues to battle, contending that it should not be forced to give up a campus, even though the 465 Bullis students are all residents of the district and if the charter school did not exist, would need to be housed in district schools.
And there is also the history of Gardner Bullis School in Los Altos Hills — the campus the district decided to close in 2003, which precipitated a huge fight with Hills residents, who wanted their neighborhood school kept open.
Rather than send their children to Los Altos schools, parents decided to form Bullis Charter School, winning approval from the county Board of Education, after LASD refused to support their charter.
It's little wonder Bullis is upset, and the conflict continues to fester to this day. Instead of simply giving the shuttered Gardner Bullis campus to the charter school, LASD reopened the school shortly after closing it, even though its student body is the smallest in the district. Certainly, giving up Bullis would create some hardship for the district's other schools, but at least it would resolve the dispute and enable the LASD board to focus on finding new alternatives to house its students.
We wonder if the parents and other citizens of the Los Altos district were aware of the bitter history between the district and Bullis when they recently formed a coalition to attack the charter school for its effort to obtain adequate classroom space for its students. How can an effort to convince the district to abide by an Appellate Court ruling be construed as overzealous?
Proposition 39 says a school district's facilities — its land, buildings and other such assets — must be "shared fairly" with any charter school within the district's boundaries. And "fair" is calculated by accounting for all the space and facilities available at "comparison schools, such as those within a district that are most similar to a given charter school.
The language is clear if it is read without bias. But according to the reasoning being floated by the Los Altos district, Bullis is at fault for simply asking that the Los Altos district honor what the court ordered and provide a campus for its 465 students, who all live in the district.
There is no doubt that taking a campus away from the relatively small district would be a bitter pill for its parents and students. And it could get even worse if the court decides to force the district to pay $1.3 million in legal fees, as Bullis has requested. But unless the district can find another site in the immediate area that could accommodate the nearly 500 students, it appears that the courts will have to step in once again to assure that Bullis Charter School will have a permanent address for the 2013-14 school year.