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LASD loses Bullis suit on appeal

Original post made on Nov 3, 2011

A California appellate court has ruled that the Los Altos School District has not provided "reasonably equivalent" public school facilities to Bullis Charter School, overturning a decision made by the county court.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 3, 2011, 11:27 AM

Comments (33)

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Posted by LASD Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Dear Mr. Baier, you say that "always been committed to providing reasonably equivalent facilities to the children in our district, as well as the children who attend the charter school."

As an LASD parent, I am astonished at your failure to recognize the fact that charter school children ARE district children. The fact you continue to attempt to make a distinction between them speaks volumes about why you are in the deep hole you are in. They are ALL children in the district and must ALL be treated fairly. I want my kids to have a choice in public education, I will keep applying to the charter until there is room for all of us!

Your recent letter to us LASD parents is an embarrassing attempt to deny the facts and distort the truth, prolonging the misery for our community. Isn't it time to acknowledge the mistakes LASD has made and do the right thing?

At what point will this elected school board face the facts and show respect for the rule of law? In my civics class, I learned that the appeals court has authority over the trial court. There is no conflict between the courts, as you claim - the appeals court outranks the trial court - full stop! Isn't it time to model the behavior and integrity we aim to instill in our children? Let's have a civil discussion about how to honor our obligations under the law and get facilities ready for the coming year.


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Posted by LASD Parent CEO
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


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Posted by BCS Supporter
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I don't think that attacking a public officials personal situation is appropriate (or for that matter relevant) for this issue. This is about our protecting and providing for our kids...not smearing the reputation of the adults involved in making the decisions.

I applaud BCS for it's commitment not only to it's students but also to the whole charter school community. Let's hope that this sets a precedent across our state that is the impetus for positive change in charter schools...and beyond.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

It's always the richest and the poorest who feel the most entitled.


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Posted by Sid
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I think Baier and the little in property taxes he pays is quite relevant since he keeps trying to raise property taxes. Besides which, he should not be wasting such valuable tax dollars in fighting BCS if the district is always so short of funds. Just get ready. More tax hikes are on the way with him in charge


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Posted by Ron Haley
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I was hoping that Baier might be a solution to the BCS/LASD battle. His letter to parents was an embarrasement. It's obvious now that he is part of the problem
Ron Haley
LASD and BCS parent


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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Can someone post the letter from Baier?


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Posted by Choice in public schools
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

My favorite description of Jeff's letter so far...it is like a prize fighter who got knocked out in the 5th round claiming he won 4 out of 5 rounds.


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Posted by LASD Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 7:07 am

Letter from Jeff Baier, October 28, 2011


Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you may be aware, the Los Altos School Districtıs legal challenges from
Bullis Charter School continue. I wanted to share with you the latest
information along with some explanation.

The Los Altos School District learned yesterday that the California Court of
Appeal, Sixth District, ruled in favor of the Bullis Charter School in the
latest chapter of the ongoing legal proceedings between the charter school
and the district.

The appeal arose from BCSıs latest lawsuit against the district challenging
its allocation of facilities to the charter school under Proposition 39, the
State law governing charter school facilities. In November 2009, the
Honorable James P. Kleinberg of the Santa Clara County Superior Court
rejected almost all of BCSıs legal contentions in a ruling that favored the
District. Judge Kleinbergıs ruling was the fourth time a judge had rejected
a BCS legal challenge to the Districtıs facilities allocation since 2004.
The court of appealıs decision yesterday reverses three of the nine points
in Judge Kleinbergıs November 2009 ruling.

BCSıs lawsuit challenges the districtıs allocation of facilities in the
2009-2010 school year, which ended almost a year and a half ago. It is
important to note that the court of appeal did not address or impact the
districtıs selection of the location of BCSıs facility, or its decision to
place BCS at the Egan site. Two issues on which Judge Kleinberg ruled in
the districtıs favor ­ the decision not to allocate facilities for the 7th
grade in 2009-2010, and the inclusion of the multipurpose room in
calculating the fee charged to BCS ­ were not appealed by BCS, leaving Judge
Kleinbergıs 2009 ruling on those issues to stand.

The court of appeal's decision appears to focus more on the process for
considering facilities requests, as opposed to requiring that the allocated
facilities meet a prescribed mathematical threshold. The decision
contradicts prior judicial treatment of this issue, including the previous
decision ruled in the district's favor. LASD is assessing its future legal
options.

The Los Altos School District has always been committed to providing safe
and reasonably equivalent facilities to district children whose families
choose to enroll them in Bullis Charter School. For eight years now, the
district has made its best, good faith efforts to share facilities fairly
among all students, those attending Bullis Charter and those attending the
District's schools.

Even prior to this ruling, the board has been actively involved in finding a
longer-term solution for BCS. Itıs even one of the stated goals in the
districtıs Educational Blueprint. In fact, after months of study, the
Citizens' Advisory Committee for Finance (CACF) recently presented the board
with options for consideration, and the board had already begun the process
for arriving at a decision.

Our main concern is that the courtıs adoption of BCSıs interpretation of
Proposition 39 imposes an additional burden upon the Los Altos School
District. The district already struggles every year to meet the onerous
demands imposed under Prop 39, in addition to the fiscal challenges imposed
by the Stateıs economic condition. This ruling now adds further
complication.

The highest priority of the Los Altos School District is to provide its
students with a world-class education. The court of appealıs ruling is the
latest step in the continuing process of finding a longstanding facilities
solution for BCS, and allowing both parties to return their focus to their
core mission of educating their students.

If you have any questions about this matter or would like to comment, please
feel free to email me.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Baier


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Posted by BCS parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

and here is the link to the court ruling:

Web Link

If you just want the highlights, the conclusion is on page 43. Don't miss footnote #33 and 34--pretty damning stuff


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Posted by try again
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 10:17 am


Try this to get to the court files. You need to add "www." in front of the following
courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H035195.PDF


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Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

1. The children that go to the BCS are not district children any more than children that go to St. Nicholas or Pinewood are district students. District students are children that go to a LASD school. BCS is chartered by Santa Clara County.

2. Jeff Baier's family home tax basis is irrelevant. But, if you think it is and you think BCS kids are district kids then....how much does Wanny make in salary and benefits, how was her home purchased and remodeled, how are cleaning services paid for? These are all questions that people want to know.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

BCS is a public school within the boundary of LASD. If Los Altos Hills created their own school district, I believe state law would transfer the Gardner Bullis site and the Pinewood site to the new district. Pinewood leases their site from PAUSD.

BCS is not a private school. It is a public charter school. My kids would be in LASD, but we applied to BCS after LASD told us we had to transfer to Covington from Santa Rita. My kids bike to BCS. I would have to drive them to Covington. BCS is now our neighborhood school.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

BCS is a public school within the boundary of LASD. If Los Altos Hills created their own school district, I believe state law would transfer the Gardner Bullis site and the Pinewood site to the new district. Pinewood leases their site from PAUSD.

BCS is not a private school. It is a public charter school. My kids would be in LASD, but we applied to BCS after LASD told us we had to transfer to Covington from Santa Rita. My kids bike to BCS. I would have to drive them to Covington. BCS is now our neighborhood school.


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Posted by Read the Ruling
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

'Member' ,

Repeating over and over again the BCS is a private school does not make it so. The "BCS is a private school" meme first appeared a couple of months ago. I am curious to it's exact origins, and could certainly hazard a guess, but really it needs to stop. It's right up there with all the other dishonest talking points that have been making their way around the District. It would be fantastic if we could all work together to find a solution that is fair to all LASD students. To accomplish this we need to stop the lies. I suggest that everyone read the Appellate Court Decision. I don't think that Mr. Baer has --- which is really sad.


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Posted by barbara miller
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm

To read the ruling-
Way to start a dialogue - suggest the LASD superintendent hasn't read the ruling.
Yet another lie, and an ignorant one at that. To suggest above you must have drunk the BCS kool-aid.
BCS, such as they are (public with tuition, or private started by disgruntled parents-do you know your local history?), are here to stay. As much as I don't like the way BCS acts - using the law when to their advantage and ignoring it when not, LASD is looking for a permanent home for BCS. Move on, get over it. And then feel good about yourself, if you can, in a school that is not wanted OR needed, a community at war, and a board unaccountable to you or its chartering agency.


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Posted by BCS parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2011 at 7:56 am

BCS not wanted? We have over 6 application for every seat. Accountability? We have to answer to the County Board of Education that combs over every detail of our program every five years. Our board meetings are open to the public as is our annual lottery. Our board is elected per our bylaws with a nominating committee, very similar to another non-profit board I served on also with public trust and funds.

BCS is here to stay. It is a public school and it's students are normal, local kids who deserve better facilities. In a State at the bottom of national rankings...the Charter school movement may be our only hope of real education reform. Bullis is the high tide that is raising all boats. Competition is a good thing and having the top charter school in the State in our town improves everything from other public schools to property values.


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Posted by Read The Ruling
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2011 at 7:57 am

Ms. Miller,
I am was stating my opinion. I hoped that Mr. Baier would steer the District in a different direction. For too many years the District's main strategy has been to get rid of the competition. There has been many dollars invested in this. The letter posted above shows that it is business as usual. The court was very clear, yet the district continues on, treating public school children differently. Read the caption under the picture above.


There is a long list of costly bad decisions made by the District. I won't state them here, I would like us all to move on, but that needs to start with everyone knowing the facts-please read the court decision.


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

BCS a private school? Name one other private school that (a) receives the bulk of its funding from the state; (b) does not require tuition; (c) admits by lottery; (d) requires approval of its operations from the county every 5 years for continued existence; (e) is publicly scrutinized at open hearings to obtain that approval; (f) was required to defend itself in two 4+ hour hearings this year to obtain that approval; (g) is maligned with lies by the local school board that would have not allowed it to exist in the first place, and then testified against its creation at the county hearing.

The idea that BCS is, or is even LIKE, a private school is inflammatory and ignorant.


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Posted by member too
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I'm still interested in how public funding and private donations are used to compensate Wanny (in services, benefits, and salary) and how the lawsuits are funded. I can't understand why this info isn't available. I don't see it anywhere on the BCS website or the County Bd of Ed website. It's hard to know what's true and not true when we hear rumors about the non-monetary compensation the principal receives if we can't find the data anywhere.


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Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Well, though BCS is a public school, there are certain aspects that are rather "non-public." One example is funding by the Bullis-Purrisima School Foundation (or whatever outdated name is attached to this foundation arm). BCS goes out of its way to distance itself from this foundation, though in fact they are quite inter-linked. As I understand, parent donations, etc go to the foundation, then who knows where they go from there. It appears that lengths are taken to keep this funding secret, even though this is a public school. Go figure.

BCS has some extremely wealthy backers, some names well known in Silicon Valley and beyond. Perhaps they operate in regard to funding lawsuits through the foundation, or maybe even more privately. The district cannot keep up in regard to the ability to fund lawsuits.


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Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

ARe there any BCS folks willing to give out the data about all compensation/gifts etc for Wanny and how the litigation is funded? It's amazing how quiet this board has suddenly gotten.


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Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:58 pm

to Member
No one is responding to your crass mud-slinging and rantings because you clearly have a personal axe to grind.


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Posted by Another BCS parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:31 am

The level of compensation Wanny Hersey receives is probably similar to other Superintendent/Principal's compensation. I don't see any other LASD principal's compensation listed on LASD website either. The BCS's legal fees for Prop 39 are paid from the foundation's restricted fund that was set up a long time ago for potential site purchase. Since Prop 39 falls under facility/site acquisition, the fund is legitimately used for the legal fees. I don't see on the LASD website what their legal spending is - I wonder if CTA is funding some of it, as CTA has a vested interest in defeating Prop 39.


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Posted by Community Member
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

Would not surprise me at all if CTA was funding LASD and the California Charter Schools Association funding BCS. What's lost in all the tirades above is that this has always been much larger than BCS vs. LASD. LASD hired the #1 law firm that represents districts opposing charter schools; BCS hired the #1 law firm that represents charter schools. This was a HUGE decision for charter schools in the state of California.
While the repercussions for LASD are going to be great, the decision wasn't about LASD vs. BCS... it was about districts vs. charters.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Community Member: you are absolutely right. The court ruling was a real victory for charter schools throughout the state who are fighting against school districts in order to give students choice on the type of education they want to have. Either school districts will have to improve, and compete, or they will lose students to charter schools. In Los Altos, it is about offering choice, not about failing schools, but the same issue exists. And the teachers unions are the ones with the most to lose as charter schools gain traction.


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Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Asking questions is not mud-slinging and not everyone here has a personal gripe. I was just trying to clarify what Wanny's situation is in terms of compensation, etc since prior comments were made about Jeff Baier not paying enough in taxes since he took over his parent's home (not sure if that is true or not) and since I have heard from some ex-BCS (disgruntled yes) parents about how Wanny is compensated. Since BCS is a public school, that information should be public as well. LASD's salary and other compensation is publicly-available. You can do a search on the Mercury News website Web Link. I couldn't find anyone from BCS on that site. The budgets are also public and list legal payments.

IF BCS is a public school, then its employees are public employees and information about compensation should be available.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Public employee salaries are public information, but agencies are not required to publish this information on the web. Newspapers obtain the data using Freedom of Information Act requests.


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Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I guess BCS declined to state then? It's too bad. This information should be readily available.


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Posted by member too
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Surprised no one from BCS is on here with the financial data. What's the secret?


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Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

A commenter on the patch website just posted a link that shows the principal/superintendent gets almost $240,000 for running BCS. Not sure about other services/help that may be given - I'm not a financial person so reading tax returns is certainly not my forte. I was surprised at the amount considering it's only one school in comparison to the number of schools most superintendents run. I think she gets more than Jeff Baier. Certainly not a good use of public funds in my humble opinion (since BCS does get a portion of public funding).


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Posted by lasd parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Who cares? So what? Look at the outrageous sallaries executives make all over that are running failing companies. This guy is running the best program in los altos. Somebody needs to solve this problem soon so the rest of us know where to send our kids to school next year. Is Covington really part of the discussion? Why not Gardner Bullis where the charter kids live?


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Posted by LASD needs to change direction
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Why oh why are they continuing with this farce? They have been lying to us for a long time now, I am not sure why they started it. Did they really think they were making all those poor choices for the benefit of the children? Or were they doing it for their own egos? BCS deserves a school, they deserve to run all the district schools, they would do a much better job.


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