Town Square

Judge: LASD may split Bullis

Original post made on Jul 5, 2013

In the latest decision in the ongoing legal battle between Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District, a judge ruled that the district has the right to split the charter school between two separate campuses -- Egan and Blach.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 5, 2013, 10:47 AM


Posted by Anna S., a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

Editor: 12 is not four more than nine.

Posted by David R, a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

It's good to see a judge confirm that the school district is doing the best it can with the facilities they have without giving preferential treatment to one group over another. It is correct that no district elementary or jr high student is split between two schools. The charter chose to implement a 7 and 8 grade program recently. It is their choice, however LASD has no such equvalent facility to handle both elementary and jr high students. Offering Blach and facilities for 6-8 gave BCS the opportunities needed in line with what the district operates. It may not seem fair, but then again that appearance of fairness is dependent on how BCS implements its own grade configuration. If they chose an integrated K-12 would it be fair if they still didn't have a single site.

Posted by incognito, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

"No other schoolchild in the Los Altos School District is forced to go to a school that is located on two campuses," said Joe Hurd, a BCS board member.

Maybe no students at LASD attend more than one campus, but when those students get to high school they very well may attend LAHS or MVHS half-day and Freestyle HS the other half, or go to Foothill for part of their school day, or from MVHS to LAHS for a vocational class there.

Furthermore, as adults these students may be required to travel to another building, another city, or another country on business. Is that also not fair?

Yes it would have been optimal to keep an elementary school in LAH. But the resulting problems with Bullis Charter are (1) it's comprised entirely of privileged kids from affluent families, instead of underachieving kids which was the whole purpose of charter schools, and (2) those privileged kids have parents who are clearly accustomed to being able to get whatever they want. How tragic to learn that all their money can't buy them what they want.

Posted by Good job LASD, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Glad to see the courts uphold the LASD understanding of it's requirements. Now, to deal with the rest of the bogus lawsuits brought on by Bullis and their political motivations. Maybe, finally, we will get back to educating our children.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I know this issue of siting Bullis has been contentious...and for many years. But we also need to think about the lesson we're teaching our children about how to fight fair and work together. They do watch, and I've seen evidence that they're learning the wrong things about how adults should resolve complex issues.

We have an audience! And they're impressionable and curious.

Posted by Bullis, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm

A bunch of elitists trying to force their own private school funded by public money. Rich kids all grown up, finally dealing with not getting their way.

Posted by Figjam, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm

While the ruling may be the right one, it won't be the last one. BCS backers seem to have an endless supply of funding for litigation -

Perhaps their money would be better spent on tuition for their own private school, which is really what they want, except at taxpayer expense.

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm

If so many people hate the charter school laws why don't you campaign to get them repealed?

It seems like people are just made that other people with more money are utilizing the charter school process to their advantage.

I'm sure those Bullis parents play PLENTY in taxes. It's not like they're getting something for free.

Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

You are right, Otto. The folks who have children at BCS pay plenty in taxes. So do the rest of the residents of this area. Why should the charter school children have special treatment that the district school children do not?

As for getting their charter revoked, it should be if they don't serve the spirit of the charter law, which was to help struggling school districts improve. As far as I can tell, the district has no schools that are struggling. The children the charter law was meant to help are not a very large part of the charter population. In fact, they are a much smaller percentage of the BCS population than they are in the district schools, so how are they helping those kids?

If Bullis REALLY wants to work toward a solution to this problem, I have suggestion. Stop the endless litigation, work with the district to find sites for ALL the kids in the LASD boundaries and deal with the fact that you may not get everything you want.

The money spent on the lawyers would be better spent finding them a site for a school.

Posted by David R, a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

This ruling will make BCS rethink their strategy with the end result of dropping the 5 ongoing cases they have against LASD. The marginal victory they had with the Appeals court on the '09 facility suit, which clarified the facility allocation calculation and further upheld by the Supreme Court with their refusal to hold an appeal trial, had given BCS the momentum in recent litigation. That is soon going to change with BCS ending a litigation strategy and working with LASD and without demanding radical changes to be had by LASD.

Posted by David Roeper, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2013 at 12:53 am

As I understand it, the bill for the litigation will be paid by the Los Altos School District. That's one of the issues in court right now. The case cleared up some confusion about how all the districts in the state need to go about sharing their school buildings when some of the students choose to go to a Charter school. This happens a whole lot but here are issues when the school starts small but grows. The judges explained where Los Altos had gone wrong and issued a ruling which is binding on everyone, not just in Los Altos. That's why they can get the public agency to pay for the lawyer fees. So what does Los Altos do but try to fight off this repayment of what they owe. By spending more and more time in court.

Posted by David Roeper, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2013 at 1:04 am

Yeah, it's preferential treatment when the parents of 600 students expect that they would share proportionately with the other 4400 students in the district. All of the other schools are smaller, so it seems to me that they should get first dibs.... especially when one of the schools only has 300 students and it has its own entire school campus to itself.

Los Altos will never learn. It was trying to buy an old run down school from Sunnyvale and provide that to the charter school, which is illegal (land has to be inside the district). That was miles away. Is that special treatment, not to be shipped off to a distant location? How hard is it to split things up so that 1/8 of the students can get 1 of the existing 9 schools. If they want to get fancy and do something different, then they should have figured out what over the last 10 years. Our taxes pay for this. We don't live in Los Altos but our taxes in the district have to cover all this mess.

Posted by mayerct, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

BCS is suing over costs of litigation fees for the Appeals ruling. What you don't understand is that such motions in this circumstance will be thrown out. Attorney fees are awarded when there was large malice involved or financial impact. The Appeals Court clarified an obscure technicality in the facility calculation, no motion of INTENDED malice was issued, despite how it appeared. There is also no financial impact to BCS. Especially since their
lead lawyer admitted all legal were paid using the INTEREST of a private site fund worth greater than 5 MILLION $, nothing coming from parent donations or school operating funds. Frivolous lawsuit at best.

Posted by DavidR, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2013 at 12:59 am

DavidR is a registered user.

Yes, as the first comment observes, 12 is not 4 more than 9, but the number means something. At the time referred to, where there were 12 schools, this was not the district's point of high enrollment. In fact at that time, with under 400 students at some of those 12 schools, the district was planning to close schools! So what does it matter that then, there were 12 schools? They felt that was too much at the time. Moreover, 3 of those 12 schools were Jr High schools, with even smaller enrollments than the elementary schools at the time, one as low as 300-350. No wonder they were cutting back at that point. It's a meaningless point that the district has brought up repeatedly in this conflict, even in court filings.

(By the way, I am not the David R. listed as posting above, if you care.)

Posted by DavidR, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2013 at 1:02 am

DavidR is a registered user.

Oh, but very soon after the time referred to with 12 schools, the district was indeed down to 8 schools, so we are actually operating 1 more regular campus and 1 camp school charter campus more than the district decided was optimal to consolidate into, from the 12 school point.

Posted by mayer_ct, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

mayer_ct is a registered user.

It's so obvious from the words used that you manufactured all those posts above, especially the posts with the blank name. For the sake of the argument you raised, if BCS were not around then yes attendance boundaries may have been redrawn. So what. Without BCS think of all the money from both sides spent on litigation going to actually educate and house the kids. Think of the donations that those BCS families, those few that would not have gone to private school, would have contributed. Think of the lack of acrimony without all the lawsuits and demands for school closure from BCS. Maybe we would already have found another facility to handle the impending crowding.

Posted by Just Say No to Kool-Aide, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

Just Say No to Kool-Aide is a registered user.

Here is a financial benefit created by Bullis Charter School:

LASD is a Basic Aide Status district which means that it doesn't depend on enrollment for funding. Fewer students means that there is more money to spend on each LASD student. In fact for every student that leaves for BCS there is about $5000 extra dollars to spend on remaining LASD students.

Posted by Just Say No to Kool-Aide, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

Just Say No to Kool-Aide is a registered user.

Here is a quote from the Feb 10, 2012 Voice:

"As we said last December, as a basic aid district, Los Altos receives the bulk of its financial support from local property taxes, an amount that is not dependent on the number of students attending LASD schools. The district receives the same amount whether or not the Bullis school exists.

But now, 465 students attend Bullis, which is totally supported by state funds, taking the obligation away from LASD. Given that LASD, through taxes and parental support, spends about $11,000 per student, the district saves $5 million a year by not having to educate the Bullis students."

Posted by DavidR, a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

Bullis overs an option available to any student to attend a district-wide program with different educational focuses than in the typical district school. This choice is a benefit on the face of it and because of LASD's failure to have any other district-wide or magnet school options.

There is unquestionably an issue in Los Altos where the schools are in the wrong locations to match up with where students live. The district gets trapped by pretense that all their students are treated the same, that they all have a nearby neighborhood located school. The students who don't actually have this benefit are 2nd class citizens, because of the fact that 2/3 of the students do have this perq, and because the district spends a lot of extra money to keep them enjoying it.

Posted by Just Say No to Kool-Aide, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Just Say No to Kool-Aide is a registered user.

Mayer_Ct states:

" For the sake of the argument you raised, if BCS were not around then yes attendance boundaries may have been redrawn. So what"

Mayer Court is located across the street from the Almond Soccer Field. Might I suggest that Mayer_Ct. doesn't care about attendance boundaries because, well, they are assuming that even if the the attendance boundaries were redrawn they would get to stay at Almond. Nice for them, not so nice for the rest of us. I don't think they are that safe in a redraw. Nobody close to Almond, Loyola, or Santa Rita will be.

Mayer_Ct might want to talk to their neighbors a block a way in the Hollingsworth to Gillmore neighborhood. They don't go to Almond anymore as they were moved to Springer in the 2007 redraw. They live very close to Almond but far away from Springer. Mayer_Ct is really close to Almond but Springer isn't over crowded and Almond is. If BCS closed I suspect you'd be hoofing it to Springer or Covington.