LASD to appeal in Bullis legal fight Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Nov 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm
There's no end in sight to the legal battle between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School. At the school district's Nov. 15 board meeting, trustees decided that the cost of fighting the latest appellate court ruling would be well worth it.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 4:23 PM
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 17, 2011 at 5:13 am
So this is where our $1000 a year parcel tax goes.
How is it that Mountain View can negotiate salaries and benefits with it's teachers union but LASD can't?
Baier and the board are pawns of the teachers union that has got them over a barrel. They don't have the guts to stand up to them, nor any valid arguments to fight BCS. They all need to be thrown out so this town can refocus on solving problems, not dragging out issues in the courts. BCS should be allowed to exist. It's proven itself, and is no less diverse than LASD. That whole argument was ridiculous to begin with.
Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community, on Nov 18, 2011 at 9:01 am
Well, the continued lawsuits certainly exacerbate the community's pain in regard to the BCS-LASD conflict. Neither side wants to blink first, and each pushes for legal remedy, partly justified as seeking support for the state-wide interests of other district or charter students. Somehow this fight exists in a community with the best schools in CA, an outcome probably not envisioned by the authors of charter law.
In the beginning LASD refused to charter BCS, so now has a charter school in its boundaries responsible to the county, but for whom it must provide facilities. BCS refuses to be chartered by LASD, but continues a growth strategy for which LASD is on the hook, and which ultimately may mean the surrender of an existing school site, and the disruption of multiple school communities. The fight has consumed considerable time and probably millions of dollars, all diverted from actually educating our kids.
The whole scenario makes little sense. But the bottom line is that the charter deserves better facilities, no matter any of the lawsuits. Too bad neither side picked an easier path to get there.
Posted by Interested Observer , a resident of another community, on Nov 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm
The intent of the original Charter School legislation was to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged and low achieving students/families to have a choice of schooling. It was never intended for a so called charter - like Bullis. This was purely a power play by wealthy parents to have their "own" school and further distance themselves and their children from the local community of which they want no part - after all, this is Los Altos Hills we're talking about here. The so called "charter" Bullis School reflects an abuse of power and manipulation of the system.
Posted by Befuddled Citizen, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Nov 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm
Another response to this ruling by the public who don't belong to the small minority of Californias senidng children to Charter Schools might be recall of the involved appeals court judges.
Judge Adrienne Grover who was filling in from her usual post as a Superior Court Judge for Monterey County will be at risk when she next stands for re election.
Super Conservative Terminator appointee Wendy Clark Duffy is probably the most ripe for recall or when she stands for retention, while even the geriatric chief Justice Conrad Rushing will be at risk, although one cannot believe that he will actually try for another term.
One would look at the courts to protect the rights of the poor immigrant non english speaker from the wealthy, but in this ruling the judges mandated displacement of the poor from public facilities to make way for the rich.
The use of the law to steal from the poor to give to the rich is supposed to be a thing of fables not 21st century California. But not in the new California where the money wins and the public be damned.
Posted by Harold Barton 2, a resident of another community, on Nov 19, 2011 at 12:53 am
The growth strategy is a delicate balance btween answering to our shareholders and founders, many of whom wish for the school to remain small and the insane demand that seems to grow each year both from within the school (adding a middle school) and outside (6 applicants for every seat last year and now standing room only at our first Open House last week) A deeper outreach in the community is only going to make the numbers more incredible.
4 weeks ago you were arguing that the Charter should be revoked, now that the district needs to give us a home? And, your personal choice was private school??? Do you really belong in this argument?
Of course you do! You are still a taxpayer watching this folly. Doesn't it infuriate you that you just fought to help line the pockets of the LASD only to see this is how they spend it? Did you read the judgement? 1,000,000 square feet missing from comparison schools? Evidence of bad faith? You and the rest of the taxpayers need to start demanding answers. BCS parent like myself surely will never get them. We can even get the basic facilities promised in last year's agreement!
Posted by correction, a resident of another community, on Nov 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm
"can't" I meant to write that BCS can't even get the basic facilities that were agreed to in last Spring's final facilities agreement. Anyone out there still wondering why there is litigation? The five trustees have a legal obligation to provide the facilities, as pathetic and bare minimum that they are, in their annual agreement. And they don't even do that! BCS is super frustrated. Imagine that your school is the only one in the district without a library? That is BCS. No Science Lab for our Middle schoolers--BCS. Even the gym which we were granted access to for a mere 2 hours a week has been denied. Come on LASD Board! And to the larger community, if you want the BCS problem to stop "being the problem" facing LASD, we need your help putting the heat on LASD Trustees to rectify these simple and agreed to facilities.
Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community, on Nov 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Harold, thanks for your comments. Please let me correct one of your points. Some weeks ago I made it clear that I supported renewal of the charter--I did not argue that it should be revoked. At the same time I expressed some concerns, mostly in regard to the BCS board. In my opinion it is hard to stand 100% behind BCS or LASD in regard to this conflict, and those who take an absolute stance on these issues are part of the problem, with due respect.
You are correct that I am not pleased in regard to the way LASD has managed their funds since the parcel tax was passed, a parcel tax which I strongly supported. I also wish they would not have further appealed the lawsuit.
And I certainly support the need for better facilities for BCS, whether a judge calls the current facilities "reasonably equivalent" or not. I have taken this position long before the most recent lawsuit reversal.
I have been involved in this issue for many years. At first I was attacked by district supporters, more recently by BCS supporters. I believe we would have been much farther toward resolution at this point without all the lawsuits, but it's too late now. The main issue now, no matter what happens at the CA supreme court (assuming the case is accepted) is that BCS needs better facilities, both in the short run and in the long run.
Posted by Educator, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Nov 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm
I think that there is quite a bit of misinformation bouncing around about charter schools. Charter schools were designed to serve all students in California. There is nothing in the law about serving only low income students. In fact there isn't a single mention of socio economic status anywhere in the law. I think that some might be substituting disadvantaged for low achieving in part (b) of the law "......for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving. " I have worked with students in all SES groups and low achieving students are present at all economic levels. As are high achieving students.
Here is the Legislative intent from the Charter School Act of 1992:
Legislative intent 47601.
It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this part, to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a method to accomplish all of the following:
(a) Improve pupil learning.
(b) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving.
(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
(d) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.
(e) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.
(f) Hold the schools established under this part accountable for meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.
(g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.
From what I know about Bullis Charter, it appears to be right inline with the intent of the law.
Posted by Interested Observer , a resident of another community, on Nov 20, 2011 at 12:57 am
To Educator: if you study the evolution of charters and vouchers, the original intent was to provide choice for low achieving and low ses students and their families. Unfortunately, what charter schools are creating, particularly in inner city neighborhoods, is a further re-segregation of the student population.
Posted by Educator, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Nov 20, 2011 at 10:10 am
I think that law is what is important here. The law does not include anything about SES. I am sure that there were many ideas about what this law should include. I know that the teacher's union — who I was a member of at the time — thought that all charter school teachers should be required to join the CTA.
When the law was finished the legislator felt that competition was a key part of charter schools so they amended the law to include:
(g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.
Posted by Educator, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Nov 20, 2011 at 11:18 pm
I am wondering what you think about about fair competition in public schools? Do you think BCS is competing unfairly? Or do you think, as the Appellate Court Decision stated, that there is evidence that LASD acted in Bad Faith?
Posted by Elementary Teacher, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Nov 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm
All the Los Altos schools are excellent – LASD schools and Bullis Charter. They turn out successful students headed for high school and college, working their way towards becoming contributing, caring adult members of our community.
So why not join hands and work together helping ensure the success of all our young men and women.
Posted by Parent, a resident of another community, on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:04 am
The Charter parents got pissed when the district closed Bullis Purissima so they formed BCS. Now they want us to roll over and be submissive when they want to close a school and specifically ask for Gardner Bullis? Why was it different for them? Why are we not supposed to fight this time?
Posted by parent2, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Nov 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm
BCS said that any 10+ acre site would be fine but that they felt that Gardner was the best choice. Let's get the facts right.
Would be great to see the parents at Gardner start another charter school... would give LASD parents more options. They need to understand though that charters are NOT granted just because a school is closed. They must have a fundamentally different program--just like BCS does.
Posted by David Spector, a resident of another community, on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm
A few basic points:
1. Any fair minded person must conclude that the Egan Camp Site is not reasonably equivalent to the facilities provided at other LASD sites. Many people have arguments about why they think BCS does not deserve an equal share of public facilities, but can we at least put to bed the joke of an argument by the District that BCS already has equivalent facilities and would have better facilities than other District students if LASD provided anything more? I mean really, which parent at another LASD site wishes their children had the charter school campus instead of the one they have?
2. It is the District that creates a scarcity of spots at BCS by providing facilities that limit BCS's growth. For an allegedly "exclusive" school, BCS is growing in size (taking students through a random lottery) much faster than the District despite these District imposed constraints. It is LASD that wanted BCS to stay a small school for a limited number of families. They are unhappy that BCS is a growing diverse school and want to stop more families from choosing a charter school. If the District is truly concerned about letting everyone who wants a BCS education get one, why not provide equal facilities so BCS could take more kids? Wouldn't it be better to let all families have the education of their choice instead of trying to force certain families to attend District schools.
3. For every child who leaves LASD and moves to BCS, the District is left with more money per student in District schools. This is because the District does not share any local revenues, so almost half the revenues associated with each student stay behind with the District when the student leaves. It is simple math and all those who assert otherwise need to explain their case in detail. BCS spends its limited funds far more efficiently than the District, which has built up almost a 20 million dollar unfunded liability using budgeting gimmicks that have become far too common in our country.
4. As a starting point for figuring out how to solve the facilities problem, ask yourself how LASD would accommodate (as required) all BCS in-district students if they returned to LASD schools as they have a right to. LASD planned for much higher attendance when it opened first Covington and then Gardner Bullis. Obviously they have excess capacity and are not running efficiently with taxpayer money.
5. It is a shame how many people, often understandably upset, make lots of statements suggesting illegal courses of action or alleging often repeated stories with no or only anecdotal evidence. Cooler heads are going to be needed to sit down and try to solve these issues for our entire community. Demonizing the other side is really counterproductive IMHO.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm
Some history. Both the LASD and MVSD are dishonest when it comes to spending. Both argued for another parcel tax because of a lack of funding. Both tax measures passed and both school districts closed schools soon after(Bullis and Slater). Both are now arguing poverty and looking at higher taxes. Can these districts really be trusted to spend money wisely? At least the charter school must offer something better or it will fail. Cant say the same thing about the public schools. Charter schools provide some necessary competition to the bureaucratic monopoly.
Posted by Harold Barton, a resident of another community, on Nov 30, 2011 at 10:37 am
1. Harold Barton is not a real person. It's just a made up name.
2. Although you aren't a real person either here, it's possible that Mr. Cortrite can file a slander suit and compel this board and your ISP to assist in finding out your real name, and then serve you with papers.
Now, if you are ONE THOUSAND PERCENT sure that "Harold Barton" is this person, then by all means make those claims because truth is a viable defense against slander (look it up).
If you are wrong, and Mr. Cortrite can show that you had reckless disregard for the truth (which will look a lot like that if you are wrong), then he can go after your personal assets in a lawsuit.
I await your contraction :-).
I find it really amusing--and insulting--that the arrogant BCS people think that they can disrupt the lives of hundreds of kids and several thousand parents and nobody will care--even though they themselves went absolutely apeshit when their own school was closed.
Oh yeah, but there's only ONE parent of the 4000 or so you are threatening that is angry about this. You even know him by name.
Posted by Harold Barton, a resident of another community, on Nov 30, 2011 at 11:28 am
I'm slightly torn here. I could easily goad you into getting yourself into an actual real lawsuit here. However any real lawsuit would involve real damages. As much as I would be entertained by such a prospect, this would be mean real damages to the real "David" you keep talking about--and that's not fair to David.
Also, I really do NOT want these posts deleted by this board as this is important for everybody to see what sort of people BCS supporters are. The first step in a slander suit will be a letter to this board and they will delete the posts. I really wouldn't want that.
So for the record: I'm not the "David" you speak of. You have been warned.
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org, a resident of another community, on Nov 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm
So for the record, the person here who posted under the name, "Harold Barton 2" is NOT me and apparently is somebody who has perhaps the opposite views as me. I guess somebody is having a little fun with names.
Thank you MV Voice for making this a login-only discussion so it can be a bit more rational and coherent.
For the record, I think BCS is a defacto private school, started by a group of angry billionaires, which is now intent on closing public schools for the sole purpose of revenge against the district for closing their school many years ago (which the district later re-opened).
I think by-standers should deeply question why a bunch of billionaires are suddenly concerned about "cost controls" and what the city does with the massive, crippling, $193 yearly parcel tax. If this sounds disingenuous, it's because it is.
Bullis Charter brags about high academic performance but conveniently leave out the context, which is that they achieve test scores only 1-2% higher than the surrounding district even though they charge what most agree is a "tuition" of $5000 per year, thus self-selecting only the most advantaged students in the district. In context, this performance is actually abysmal.
The use of the Charter laws to achieve their objective (revenge) is like "using Foodstamps to buy a Ferrari". It's an ingenious interpretation of the law that the voters of California NEVER signed up for.
There is no justification for BCS to exist within one of the top districts in the country, no justification to keep a school open whose stated genesis was re-opening an already re-opened school, and no justification for a replacing top-performing public schools with experiments "just to be different". Such experimentation belongs in the (unassisted, uncorrupted) private sector, which is the spirit of our beloved Silicon Valley.
We should be mindful that most BCS parents and students are victims here and they should be treated as humanely as possible. In exchange for a promise (MOU) to take in no new students, the district should find BCS better facilities (but NOTHING involved the closure of an existing school).
Pressure, too, should be brought on the philanthropic impulses of the founders of this school to help. They created this mess, so they should help pay for the aftermath.