School district accuses Bullis Mountain View of violating its charter

Mountain View Whisman board could seek to revoke school's charter as soon as next month

Bullis Mountain View has dropped plans to open a new charter school in Mountain View this fall, but that hasn't stopped the Mountain View Whisman School District from threatening to revoke its charter.

The Mountain View Whisman School District's Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday evening to put Bullis Mountain View (BMV) on notice, accusing it of several violations that could lead to the revocation of its charter petition.

The 5-0 vote includes firing off a letter to the nonprofit BMV, accusing the school's officials of 10 violations ranging from failing to comply with information requests to attempts to "illegally" circumvent the approved charter.

The district intends to revoke the charter if the school "fails to remedy such violations" by May 5, the letter says. It's not clear if scrapping the existing charter would eliminate the school, given that BMV could then appeal the decision to the Santa Clara County Board of Education or re-submit its petition to Mountain View Whisman.

The school board reluctantly approved BMV's petition to open a charter school in the Mountain View Whisman School District late last year, imposing a series of conditions that charter school officials never agreed to implement. Among them, the district required the school to give top enrollment priority to low-income students residing near Monta Loma, Castro and Theuerkauf elementary schools, followed by low-income students throughout the district.

Other requirements include having a governing board where a majority of its members reside in Mountain View, requiring BMV to use the same benchmarks and reading assessments as the district and requiring students across all subgroups to perform better than district students on those tests by "not less than 5 percent."

Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told school board members at the April 4 meeting that he believes Bullis Mountain View had made no progress towards implementing those requirements and may intend to ignore them. Describing mounting frustration and a complete loss of communication between his staff and charter school officials, he said the rumor is that BMV was being coy about the requirements and telling parents not to worry about restrictions on higher-income families seeking to attend the school.

Attempts to get clarity through information requests, including via the California Public Records Act, shed no light on the school's activities, he said. There are signs that Bullis Mountain View's board of directors are meeting to discuss major decisions, but no posted agendas or meeting minutes exist to verify these meetings are taking place, he said.

"Bullis' actions between January and today have been one of secrecy, have been one of clandestine activities, have been one of obfuscation to make sure we do not have any information on their operations," Rudolph said. "And as an authorizer, by law, they are required to provide us with any information that we request in order for this board to do their job."

BMV officials maintained for months that they could not -- and later explicitly stated they would not -- follow the district's demands, arguing they ranged from untenable to illegal. Jennifer Anderson-Rosse, BMV's head of school, told trustees at a March 7 school board meeting that the district doesn't have the authority to approve the charter while simultaneously rewriting details in the document, and that the requirement to "mirror" the demographics of the district would amount to discriminatory enrollment preferences.

The March meeting came at a critical moment, in part because BMV officials had just postponed the admissions lottery to determine which 168 students could attend the school in its inaugural year. It was also the first public admission that the district and the charter school had made no progress in settling their differences since December. Just weeks later, Anderson-Rosse sent a letter to parents and the district stating that BMV would not open in fall 2019 as originally planned, blaming the unresolved concerns she had with the district's demands.

What didn't make sense to district officials, Rudolph said, was the claim by BMV on March 21 that the conditions amounted to a "fundamental" change to the charter petition that amounted to a denial of the petition. A denial, in this case, could give the green light to BMV to appeal to the Santa Clara County Board of Education, which would serve as an end-run around the district and its demands.

The evidence seems to support the contrary -- that BMV leaders, at least through February, had interpreted the board's action as an approval of the charter petition, Rudolph said. The school sent a letter to the district thanking the staff and showing a willingness to accept the facilities offer under Proposition 39, ran student registration events, hired staff and applied for an official school code from the California Department of Education.

"All of those actions indicate they were planning to open in the coming year," he said.

The district fired a warning shot on March 19, sending a strongly worded letter admonishing BMV for what Rudolph called an attempted "end-run" around the district to swap oversight agencies. The letter claims that charter school leaders had secretly met with County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan and her staff to discuss the possibility of operating a school with the county's approval instead, spurred by "its dissatisfaction with the governance and enrollment requirements" imposed by the district.

"BMV's actions amount to a bad faith lobbying effort to undermine the district's oversight authority because of its own inability and/or unwillingness to comply with the charter and the promises made," Rudolph said in the letter.

Following the vote, Anderson-Rosse said she maintains that the district's "untenable" conditions amounted to a rejection of the charter, and that the school board cannot revoke a charter that was never approved in the first place. She said BMV has no further intention of responding to the district or participating in a back-and-forth over the terms of revocation, and that the district's latest actions amount to a "wasteful spectacle."

"Unfortunately, it’s the families who wanted this educational opportunity that the district has harmed," she said.

In a short letter to the district April 4, Anderson-Rosse also suggested the warnings by the district contained numerous false statements, including the claim that BMV representative held a secretive meeting with the county superintendent.

Shortly after scrapping plans to open the school in fall 2019 as originally planned, Anderson-Rosse told the Voice that there was no clear decision on what to do next, and said she could not clarify whether the announcement postpones the opening of the charter school or officially ends the effort to open the school.

The notice of violation can be found on the district's April 4 agenda packet.

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39 people like this
Posted by LASD Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2019 at 6:20 pm

This is no surprise to those of who live in the Los Altos School District. BCS is notorious for their secretive way of operating. From how the board is appointed, to interest-free loans given to Wanny Hersey, to starting board meetings and then moving to closed session without telling attendees when open session would start again - BCS doesn't want you to know what it is up to. Of course they want to be chartered by the county. Grace Mah (our representative) is cozy with them and the county provides very little true oversight.

146 people like this
Posted by ex-Hooli Person
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 5, 2019 at 6:44 pm

"I am altering the deal, pray I don't alter it any further." -- Darth Vader

76 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 5, 2019 at 7:46 pm

They haven't opened Bullis MV yet. They have only got one employee and she handles the minutia. Their board wouldn't need to be involved only their legal consultants. They can't violate anything without opening or even selecting through the lottery. To call seeking county advice a backdoor is rudiculous. Obviously the count tried to advise Rudolph but he would not listen to expert advice.

150 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2019 at 9:46 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

It is pretty obvious now to us who have been on the inside of MVWSD politics, that President Wilson and Superintendent Rudolph intend to fight this (legally) to the death. When I offered President Wilson a way to engage a very respected member of our community, in legal mediation before this last act, she simply refused to even acknowledge my correspondence! "RSVP" is apparently not in her lexicon. Dr. Rudolph at least politely explained that he now already had the lawyer he wanted. (BTW, not the original one that spoke before the Bd.)

So - expect more than $100,000 of public dollars (General Fund) to be spent by Superintendent Rudolph in legal fees with his new pit bull lawyer, from the Ross Valley v. Charter fights! And apparently BMV has hired their own doberman lawyer.

Let the public dog fight begin!

63 people like this
Posted by Glib Grouse
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

Glib Grouse is a registered user.

Dr. Rudolph's strong suit seems to be the politics. Educational choices, year to year planning, student well being, not so much. If we're going to have a political hack as a sup, hopefully he can at least win this political battle.

87 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2019 at 11:25 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

dear "Glib". don't agree: everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and they are relative to everyone else's trying to work in the same capacity. Rudolph is/ can be public engaging and honest ("on the backs of"). He can also be (I know, I worked on hiring him) total alpha-male "don't tell US what to do" (the US is the imperial US=ME).

IMO: Year to year planning, most facilities district-wide issues, and administration are strong. Educational choices/curriculum (when he actually is not so ME, MY IDEA, we'll let the parents know when/what WE decide: focused) can be reasonably good. Dual Immersion language program was a well known but NOT PUBLICLY discussed problem. Dr. Rudolph was the one - who brought the District's national status as 'one of the worst White-Hispanic academic achievement GAPS" issue to the public attention of his Board and community. (Stanford professor Reardon's studies)

"parent leaders" like Sara Kopek-Olson / Mistral school [Guest Opinion this issue] will urge us to fight Choice (opps - only "Charter School choice") and support Dr. Rudolph on this issue. She gives her support, very publicly, and I oppose supporting such 'turf battle' fights. Sara -should we close Mistral / Choice?
(more politics/ not fooled by you Sara)

233 people like this
Posted by Ron MV
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 8, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Ron MV is a registered user.

Look people. It is simple. BCS applied for a charter. CA rules did not give the school district many options to decline it. And if they did decline it, they would lose oversight and the state would step in and force it. So they decided to accept it but put on stipulations that make it unpalatable to BCS. They thought that would put BCS at a disadvantage, so BCS killed it and will now go back to the state. The district is trying to claim it is BCS's fault to keep the state result from happening. In the end, BCS will likely get the result they want from the state, but not until next year. In the meantime, the district will waste tons of cash trying to obfuscate it.

128 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2019 at 3:13 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The nuances are important. At this point the head of the charter school has not held any lottery to select students for next year. The district has not agreed with the charter on a memo of understanding as anticipated in the charter. It's a mutual discussion and a negotiation to come up with the MOU. The school district's only way to alter the charter is to get an MOU that has something both consistent with the charter and specific to what the district wants. There's nothing to "Ignore" if there is no agreed MOU. The charter has declared an impasse which means they are not threatening to ignore anything.

Rudolph is ignoring his obligation to negotiate an MOU in good faith and to have it be consistent with state law.

171 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 8, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@LongResident I think that is another good statement of 'where things are at'. This could be negotiated.
The Superintendent does not want to. The Board President Wilson does not want to (call a Special Meeting to Negotiate with her sole statutory powers). Of the 4 Trustees who voted to 'go ahead and charter', 3 could force a Special Meeting on Negotiating.

But, the counsel chosen by the Superintendent, Sue Ann Salman Evans (DWK) is well known for never representing charter schools. She writes of herself "called upon as a leading expert in charter school matters." She handles "revocations" through the "appeal to the State Board of Education."
Web Link

Not the person you hire, at I believe at least $1000 per hour, to negotiate!

57 people like this
Posted by mavericks74
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 8, 2019 at 4:48 pm

mavericks74 is a registered user.

All this politics. What's wrong with having another school as a choice? They are treating each other like enemies without a care to the students.

12 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Apr 9, 2019 at 8:41 am

SRB is a registered user.

@Mountain View Voice.

Alternative headline: Bullis Mountain View ghosts the MVWSD community, School District starts process to make the breakup official.

Bullis Mountain View brings ghosting to a whole new level as its board itself seems made up of ghosts, no real evidence of its existence, no record of any meeting in the physical world.

5 people like this
Posted by Glib Grouse
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 12, 2019 at 8:16 am

Glib Grouse is a registered user.

Steven -- I totally disagree re Rudolph. 600 kids forced to leave their school communities. Treated quite literally as an afterthought. Teach to One -- enough said. Assuming 17% tax revenue growth every year and then scrambling when reality strikes back. I'm sad he's got this much sway in so many kids' lives.

3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@ Glib There were many hundreds of students that were "forced to leave their school community" at Slater - when it was closed. It is unfortunate that the hundreds of students - in the North East Quadrant of MVWSD, who had no neighborhood elementary at all, have a local school opening next year? TTO:Math - yes - we know that that was a bust ("fiasco" in the award winning reporting from the Voice - my bad - I believed Rudolph's half assed [front or rear?] introduction/sale of that curriculum program)
I'm sad that Jose Guitierrez (as Bd. President) implicated himself so much in TTO:Math, and that the current Bd. majority (sometimes unanimously) gives him such latitude to forgo community input. {BTW, the loudest community input is often the most biased and the least informed - so I in no way think a democratic representative form of a legislative body needs to 'follow the loudest crowd'}

2 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 12, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

OH! I just got 'liked' by at least 150 Troll-bots. ha

7 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2019 at 3:09 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

@Steve Nelson. They aren't my troll bots. I don't know what the point of that is. Someone is playing games.

But as for the superintendent, he's got a big year next year. This new school resegregation plan is going to be tough to take for a lot of students and their families, even it does give Slater a local school. I can't see how it's going to help low income kids do better. It costs money that could be spent on that. It will all unfold starting next year, one way or another. Maybe it's good for him not having BMV as a distraction or maybe it's not. But if he starts blaming problems on the NON-existent BMV, then he will be grasping at straws.

3 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 19, 2019 at 3:54 am

ST parent is a registered user.


Got 2 simple questions for you related to the direct quotes from the BMV Petition and BMV Slide Presentation, that I quote at the bottom:

First, if Bullis Mountain View can write the below statements into their own documents and think it was legal there, then HOW can BMV now claim the same statements in MVWSD documents has become illegal????

Second, if BMV can claim they will prioritize low-income families and then put low-income families at the BOTTOM of their priorities list, HOW can BMV claim that asking BMV to put low-income families at the TOP of the list is illegal or somehow sabotages the stated BMV mission to serve the low-income community and close the "achievement gap"????

The BMV petition, dated Oct 16 2018, bottom page 6, says:
"At BMV, we will serve an intentionally diverse student demographic that mirrors the demographics of the Mountain View community both ethnically and socioeconomically."

The BMV Slide Presentation, dated Oct 3rd 2018, bottom slide 8, says:
"Our intent is to mirror the demographics of the Mountain View community, and our plan is to offer a (in bold type) priority enrollment for low-income students."

HOW can the BMV documents say the above and then the BMV leaders justify running away from their own statements?

17 people like this
Posted by Middle S Parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 23, 2019 at 8:55 am

Middle S Parent is a registered user.

The corresponence between BMV and MVWSD can be found here: Web Link

BMV is quite clear in their March 21 response: Web Link (appended below).

@ ST and others: "BMV is not running away from their own statements". They stand by their charter petition, were initially open to a real negotiation and when it became clear that MVWSD was just fighting a public relations battle and was unwilling to budge on anything, they gave up.

We have a huge budget shortfall in MVWSD. How much is being spent on legal fees?

Until this information is released, everything MVWSD does should be viewed with suspicion.

I have no connection to BMV and my kids are too old to ever attend that school if it opens. I do care about my money being spent on an expensive (and likely futile) battle against BMV.

Dear Dr. Rudolph and Members of the Board of Trustees:

This letter responds to yours of Tuesday, March 19, wherein you reiterate the
District’s conditions of approval of December 20, 2018. Your letter attached a copy of those conditions to make clear what the District Board approved, and what it did not. What it did not approve was the Bullis Mountain View charter petition.

BMV presented its painstakingly prepared, detailed petition to the District Board for consideration. Section 47605(b) of the Education Code provides that districts may grant a petition as proposed, or deny. Rather than voting to deny, the District Board instead attempted to “approve” with substantial conditions the District intended to impede and obstruct the school’s successful operation. The District’s attempted rewrite imposed requirements fundamentally contrary to important, mandatory elements of the proposed petition itself. By not approving the charter petition as presented, the District denied the petition.

Although we thereafter suggested in good faith and explained in detail
meaningful terms that harmonized any District concerns with the charter petition itself, the District (after being silent for three full weeks) rejected each and every compromise with its mantra that “the Board’s approval of the [conditions] was an indivisible part of the District’s approval of [the] charter petition”, and the District simply “is not amenable” to agreeing to BMV’s charter petition.

Therefore, in light of the fact that you have as recently as this Tuesday made
very clear that the District denied the petition and “is not amenable” to the terms of our petition, we see no practical purpose in meeting further with you. We consider our petition denied, and will proceed accordingly.

Jennifer Anderson-Rosse

6 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2019 at 9:52 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Middle and ST / the cost of the DWK lawyers will not be disclosed in a report - and it does not have to be specifically explained because it is on-going litigation. Is DWK (Evans) getting paid? YOU CAN CHECK ON THIS.

The MVWSD Board must approve "warrants" and other payments from, for instance, the General Fund. These can all be found in the Consent Agenda part of the meeting materials, under contracts for approval or some similar wording. Look for DWK, which is the law firm that MVWSD has been using for may years, and where the (In My Opinion) pit-bull anti-charter lawyer they now are using works. She is a stockholder in that company. Payments to DWK are public money, and payments to DWK (not designated charter maters or-not) are a matter of public record.

-smash through any Opacity you find in Public Spending-

2 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

It's exacting trying to explain things to ST parent. The charter school can put preferences and use outreach to include the low income families in its students.
They can then mirror the district. That doesn't mean they will in every way on all 3 types of disadvantaged measures EXCEED by GUARANTEE the make up in the district as a whole. Mirroring is not an exact copy. Mirroring doesn't have to be pixel for pixel in all senses of the word. So there's some tolerance for the resulting makeup.

Considering the district is never the same from one year to the next, this is reasonable for sure. Also consider that the district makeup varies wildly from school to school. Not only that, but next year, there differences from school to school will be different than before due to ironclad enrollment assignments. These very changes may encourage families to leave the district, and then may result in changing the average makeup. This is why it is unreasonable to even think about expecting BMV to try for an exact match to what has not yet developed. It's a way of putting an unattainable requirement, and in fact requiring quotas.

5 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

SRB is a registered user.

Revocation process will start this week.

It'll be interesting to see if BMV will draw inspiration from the current White House and continue to stonewall/ghost the publicly elected school board in charge of oversight.

Like this comment
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2019 at 2:18 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Ha ha. They're dead. How does a dead entity stonewall. If they get revived it will be new oversight.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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