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LASD accuses Bullis Charter School of discriminatory enrollment practices

Letter admonishes Santa Clara County Board of Education for failing in its oversight duties

The Los Altos School District sent a strongly worded letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Education on Tuesday demanding that it prevent "longstanding discrimination" by Bullis Charter School, accusing it of seeking to enroll the wealthiest and least needy students in the district.

The letter, dated Sept. 10 and signed by all five Los Altos School District trustees, calls on the county board of education to take formal action preventing Bullis from giving priority enrollment to students residing in the wealthiest enclave within the school district's boundaries. It also urges the county to develop a "comprehensive desegregation plan" to bring Bullis Charter School's demographics in line with the school district it serves.

The letter goes on to slam the county board of education for failing to exercise its oversight powers over Bullis. That failure has enabled Bullis to have perpetually skewed demographics, according to the letter, which also demanded that the county board of education take a more active role in requiring Bullis to accept its fair share of low-income students, English language learners and other underrepresented student groups.

"The combination of BCS's discrimination and (Santa Clara County Board of Education's) neglect has not only harmed students but produced ever increasing adverse financial impacts on LASD, and is tearing apart a community that has an exceptional commitment to the highest quality public education yet whose laudable aspirations are stymied by an unregulated, divisive and discriminatory charter school," the letter states.

Joe Hurd, the board chair of Bullis, said the board hasn't had time to review the letter yet, but he was surprised at the inflammatory language and the timing, given the ongoing negotiations with LASD over a facilities agreement.

"Why are they picking this fight now? It makes no sense," he said.

Santa Clara County Office of Education spokeswoman Summer Reeves told the Voice that the agency is still reviewing the letter and analyzing the concerns regarding Bullis Charter School, and that the office and the county board of education take monitoring and oversight responsibilities very seriously.

Bullis Charter School previously had an enrollment preference for families residing in Los Altos Hills, which was gradually phased out over the course of a five-year agreement with the school district that expires this year. To the surprise of some Los Altos School District trustees, the phase-out was not permanent.

In a June letter to the district, Bullis board member Francis La Poll told the board that the charter school only agreed to take away the so-called hills preference in exchange for a long-term facilities agreement granting space for Bullis' current and future enrollment growth.

"In return for reducing the preference, BCS received tangible benefits from the negotiated (facilities use agreement)," La Poll said in the letter. "Those benefits expire on June 30, 2019. It is only logical that the restriction on the preference expires as well."

Referencing the district's decision in 2003 to close Bullis-Purissima School, La Poll described the preference as a safeguard in the event that the district closes the only public school serving a large portion of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Los Altos school board president Jessica Speiser told the Voice that the enrollment preference is not up for negotiation, and that Bullis Charter School must do its job as a public school by serving students from all backgrounds, just like Los Altos School District schools. She said the county Office of Education, which oversees the charter school, has taken a frustrating hands-off approach to Bullis' skewed demographics.

"We need the county to do their job," Speiser said. "They've never had any oversight in this matter."

The Santa Clara County Office of Education has raised concerns about Bullis' demographics in the past. During the charter school's renewal process in 2016, a staff report noted that Bullis made strides in increasing its English learner population but still fell well short of enrolling a proportionate number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals -- a standard measure for student family income.

Although Bullis reportedly ramped up "outreach efforts" to recruit more socio-economically disadvantaged students, county staff raised concerns that the number of economically disadvantaged students remained around 1% of the school's enrollment in the 2014-15 school year.

Among the recommendations, county staff recommended that Bullis Charter School adjust admission preferences to include low-income students who reside outside of the Los Altos School District, which would be necessary in order to successfully mirror the demographics of the district.

The district's 17-page letter to the county references state data showing that 1.6% of students at Bullis Charter School are identified as socio-economically disadvantaged, compared to 6.2% in the district. The data also shows Bullis serves a disproportionately low number of English learners and students with disabilities, which Los Altos board members worry will only get worse with an enrollment preference.

"BCS's stated intention to invoke a preference for students residing within the Altos Hills -- a zip code recognized as one of the wealthiest in the country -- will only serve to exacerbate the now longstanding discriminatory impact upon these protected classes of students," the letter states.

Hurd called the letter, the timing and allegations "vindictive" and "weird," especially since LASD and Bullis are trying win public support for a controversial facilities agreement that could turn over the Egan Intermediate School campus to the charter school in exchange for limiting its enrollment growth.

Speiser said the board remains committed to resolving the district's long-standing feud with the charter school over enrollment growth and facilities, and that the letter should be seen as an entirely separate effort to ensure the school district and the charter school are on even ground when it comes to enrollment practices.

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Comments

44 people like this
Posted by Bored M
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

Good for you LASD! Sausalito and Marin were pulling a similar scam with their charter school.


14 people like this
Posted by Negotiating Tactic
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:38 am

BCS was founded in a community whose last school had just been shuttered by LASD. At that time, providing a neighborhood preference was a reasonable thing to do. Another reasonable thing to do would have been for LASD to allocate BCS equivalent and equitable space in one of their school facilities during ANY of the next 15 years, as required by state law. But they did not. Returning to the preferences approved by the county is merely a negotiating tactic. During the 5 year agreement, BCS gave up the neighborhood preference and continuing growth in exchange for LASD identifying and providing BCS a permanent facility. But they did not. LASD’s letter to the county is an excellent distraction from their own failure to follow state law and provide these in-district, public school students equivalent facilities.


74 people like this
Posted by YES!! Finally!
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:50 am

These people that facilitate all these admissions scandals need to be identified and sued. There are a small gr4oup of decision makers causing all this and allowing the Bullis Admissions scandal to continue.
The county should sue them or someone with standing in the district.

These few cheaters and upper level decision makers at Bullis are indeed causing verifiable harm to the community at large.

These admission scandals are NOT just happening at the colleges. People are cheating their way into Bullis as well as cheating the rest of the community and the leaders at Bullis are facilitating it.

A FULL Audit by a 3rd party chosen by the court will expose all. It's coming, and after the names are exposed we can begin the legal process of restitution.


15 people like this
Posted by Political Ploy
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:32 am

Notice that LASD provides the charter school with the crappiest facilities in the district, which discourage enrollment in general. So how to entice the few low income kids to be interested in opting for a different school with crappy facilities? Could LASD be causing the so-called imbalance?

But then LASD seems to be playing other games as well. The 6.1% low income fraction in LASD has increased greatly in recent years. Is it believable that this high income district has suddenly had a great influx of low income kids? We're not talking during the life of the charter school. That 6.1% figure is for 2017-18, i.e. 2 school years ago. For 2015-16 and 2016-17 the figure was 4.5%. That's a huge increase in only one year's time.

Looking at the elementary schools which make up the district there has been a similar huge increase at some of the most affluent elementary schools in the district as well. Oak Avenue Elementary is extremely high income. Los Altos Hill is not alone within LASD at having high incomes. At Oak Avenue, the figure for low income kids shot to 2.2% in 2017-18 from only 0.9% the year before. It more than doubled in one year, meaning allegedly 5 new low income kids were added to that school.

Some other schools have strange numbers as well. At Springer Elementary the area is perhaps slightly less affluent than Oak and Los Altos Hills. Yet in 2017-18 the number of low income kids dropped suddenly to 12 from 25 the year before. Huh? What happened? Covington Elementary shut from 10 to 28 during the same period, or from 1.8% to 4.8%. The other school in LASD which serves a large portion of Los Altos Hills went from 5 to 16 those 2 years, or from 1.1% to 3.8%. This Loyola School has no residential areas populated by lower income families. The changes just make no sense. LASD allegedly assigns students by their residence.

It certainly looks like LASD is cooking these numbers in some fashion. The problem is that this designation is largely self-determined. They can move kids from one school to another, and they can encourage families on the cusp of qualifying for reduced price meals to apply for that service.

Furthermore, the low income proportion of Bullis Charter has been increasing. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, Bullis added 64 new kids. Their portion of low income kids went from 0.7% to 1.5%.

It certainly would be interesting to see what happened with the number of low income kids last year and this year at the LASD schools and at the charter schools.
But the numbers are all relatively low. In adjacent Mountain View Whisman in 2017-18 the proportion of low income kids was at 34%. Across all the schools operating as part of the county office, including the Bullis Charter School, the low income proportion was 55%.

It certainly looks like LASD is nit picking.




21 people like this
Posted by Political Ploy
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

Another way to examine LASD's low income numbers is to look at the Junior High numbers. LASD only has 2 of them. One had in 2017-18 a proportion of low income kids of 2.3%. The other had a proportion of 8.0%. On the scale of what LASD is criticizing the charter school, this difference is an example of huge discrimination. It pales when compared to the County or to neighboring Mountain View Whisman. It pales when compared to the high school district which had a 19% number in 2017-18. But LASD is claiming that difference in such numbers matter. It is hard to see why they don't do something about their own two junior high schools if this is of concern to them. They have full control of that and do not have to just write letters and wring their hands.


76 people like this
Posted by SMH
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:51 am

At some point, the BCS scam run by the most entitled amongst us will come to an end. It's really quite simple: if you want your child to go to a private school, send them to one; there's no shortage. Stop scamming your neighbors by creating one within the public school system and expecting everyone else to help pay for it.


20 people like this
Posted by BCS Corruption
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:17 am

LASD should give them nothing. BCS will sue in court but LASD will prevail.


8 people like this
Posted by Political Ploy
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:21 am

Still more interesting facts about LASD's low income contingent: The CAASPP numbers show steady at about 4.8% per year since 2015 in the proportion of kids tested who are low income. This extends into 2018 test results. So this 6.1% number is highly suspect. CAASPP only tests selected grade levels, but there are tests at a lot of grades, about 75% of LASD is tested each year. Seems like the 6.1% is what is bogus.

As for cost, people forget that BCS spends less per student in total than does LASD, and LASD spends about 50% as much subcontracting a student out to BCS as it would if it taught the student itself. With 1200 kids in BCS, the other solution would be to keep on expanding it. LASD has tight finances and the savings on the kids handled by BCS is material to the success of their budget. The total number of kids in LASD+BCS combined has been decreasing lately too. Plenty are still going to private school, but the private schools are at capacity. What you could say is that BCS gives parents an option when they can't get into private school, or when they can't get into a particular LASD school. Both are often full at various grade levels.


10 people like this
Posted by Political Ploy
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:24 am

I should have said, "Where do you think 1200 kids are going to find admission to a private school?" The numbers are just too large. BCS is not a private school any more than LASD is a private school because of all the extra spending they do compared to Mountain View Whisman or other public schools. BCS is a public school with special programs in the same way LASD has special programs. LASD just keeps the best school buildings for its own programs and relegates BCS to cheaply installed portables on minimal land.... that's what they are sore about.


50 people like this
Posted by Bullis Admissions Scandal
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:58 am

We REALLY need to start looking at legal actions against individuals pulling the strings at Bullis, including conspiracy to commit fraud.


57 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 12:03 pm

The whole point of charter schools is to create a segregated private school environment using public tax dollars. If you remove their ability to segregate, rich parents will have no motivation to send their kids to charter schools.


17 people like this
Posted by LASD manipulates the numbers
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Reposting from a Los Altos Town Crier commenter, as these numbers tell the truth:

LASD writes “6.2% of LASD’s students were identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged [SED], whereas only 1.6% of BCS’s pupil population was identified as the same.” They then ask that “a comprehensive desegregation plan” be developed.

From caschooldashboard.org, here are the SED numbers for LASD schools:

Gardner-Bullis: 1.6%
Oak: 2.4%
Springer: 2.6%
Loyola: 3.8%
Covington: 4.8%

Almond: 11.2%
Santa Rita: 14.8%

So, using LASD's own 6.2% cut-off, it looks like 5 out of 7 LASD elementary schools also “urgently” need a desegration plan. Maybe Speiser needs to send a similarly “outraged” letter to the district staff and California Attorney General demanding that the LASD schools be desegregated.

To avoid being seen as hypocritical, I think that whenever we discuss BCS's alleged "SED" issue, we should also discuss the segregation issue of the 5 elementary schools.

LASD writes “During the seven years ... through 2018-19, LASD’s enrollment of special education pupils has averaged 9.5% of its pupils, whereas BCS averaged only 5.6%.”

But, according to California Dept of Education's 2018 numbers (caschooldashboard.org), there are 4 schools at around 7% for disabilities, including Bullis:

Gardner Bullis 6.5%
>> BCS 6.9%
Covington 7.2%
Almond 7.3%

Loyola 9.2%
Santa Rita 9.9%
Oak 10%
Springer 13.1%

LASD then writes “the District’s English learner population was 13.1%, whereas BCS lagged again at 10.1%.” Reported 2018 numbers:

Oak: 7.1%
Springer: 8.3%
Loyola: 9.9%
>> Bullis 10.1%
Gardener Bullis 10.7%
Covington: 11.6%

Almond: 23%
Santa Rita: 38.6%

So, Bullis has more English learners than 3 LASD schools.

In short, SED/disabilities/English learners percentages for Bullis appear to be in the range of LASD schools, and Almond/Santa Rita appear to be the outliers. No wonder the County has been unimpressed with LASD's arguments.


65 people like this
Posted by devilish details
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:15 pm

devilish details is a registered user.

ah yes, BCS apologists will dig into any crease, turn over any stone, in an attempt to defend against the fact of its chronic unabashed discrimination. if I was wedded to my discriminatory local charter school, I might be tempted to play fast and loose with the numbers, but the correct comparison is charter-to-district, not to any particular school.


58 people like this
Posted by Don't reward discrimination
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Don't reward discrimination is a registered user.

LASD should not share any of its parcel taxes with a charter school that discriminates against disadvantaged and special education students. there should never be a financial reward for policies that impose financial burdens on the district


45 people like this
Posted by Bullis Cherry Picks
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Comparing number from schools that are prohibited from drawing outside of a specified zone within the district with a school that draws from the entire district is a misleading comparison.

Oak cannot draw for outside their wealthy area so it's not surprising that they have low ESL numbers.
Bullis, though, somehow keeps up with those numbers while claiming to provide EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to all district students. Magical how their ESL numbers are so low...simply MAGICAL!

The numbers LITERALLY PROVE their discrimination!


17 people like this
Posted by Get-along
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Get-along is a registered user.

My assumption is that most, if not everyone that has commented on this article is not, nor has ever been classified as an English Learner. Both our children were in the LASD school system prior to transferring to BCS. Regardless of the fact that both were born in the United States, speak fluent English, and even fight in English, the school (I'll leave that anonymous) refused to reclassify them as non EL students. A single check box on the school registration form signifying that we ALSO speak another language at home, characterized our children as English Learners. My personal feeling was that the school wanted to keep them classified as EL so that they can claim to be providing equal opportunity, in addition to receiving additional EL funding from the government.

At the time we applied for the BCS lottery, we were still classified as EL. Regardless of this fact that we were EL, and live in the 94040 zip code, both our children were admitted to Bullis. Since then our school immediately acknowledged that our children were non-EL and reclassified them accordingly.

If we can all examine ourselves with scrutiny and fix our own faults, rather than being so critical of one another it would make our school system so much better. Keep in mind, the majority of BCS students are your neighbors. I don't understand why we don't try to get along.


14 people like this
Posted by LASD is Desperate
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 3:05 pm

LASD is Desperate is a registered user.

Many people wonder about the timing of LASD's scathing letter. The reason? LASD was hoping Assembly Bill 1505 would be in their favor. They told LASD residents to go and support the Bill. Instead, the Bill might have made Bullis even stronger. The bill passed the Senate on Sept 9, and the letter is dated Sept 10.

The percentages of SED, English learners, and students with disability for Bullis are in line with 5 of LASD's schools. Scathingly criticizing BCS's numbers while giving 5 LASD schools a free pass is insanely dishonest.

Although 1505 makes it harder for NEW charter schools to be formed, it provides a fast track renewal for quality charters such as Bullis, up to 7 years. It used to be 5.

Since the Bill didn't work out in their favor, they are back to their old tricks - inciting hate. Hopefully, this time around, LASD residents will be smart enough to realize LASD Trustees' tactics have a tendancy to backfire.

---

Here's what Section 47607 of the bill says:

(2) (A) The chartering authority shall not deny renewal for a charter school pursuant to this subdivision if either of the following apply for two consecutive years immediately preceding the renewal decision:
(i) The charter school has received the two highest performance levels schoolwide on all the state indicators included in the evaluation rubrics adopted pursuant to Section 52064.5 for which it receives performance levels.
(ii) For all measurements of academic performance, the charter school has received performance levels schoolwide that are the same or higher than the state average and, for a majority of subgroups performing statewide below the state average in each respective year, received performance levels that are higher than the state average.
...
(B) The chartering authority that granted the charter may renew a charter pursuant to this paragraph for a period of between five and seven years.
(C) A charter that satisfies the criteria in subparagraph (A) shall only be required to update the petition to include a reasonably comprehensive description of any new requirement of charter schools enacted into law after the charter was originally granted or last renewed and as necessary to reflect the current program offered by the charter.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by MVResidentAwhile
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm

MVResidentAwhile is a registered user.

[Post removed due to promoting a website]


13 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 11, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Politics is a registered user.

OK let's look at discrimination as an issue, focusing now on LASD's part in this.

LASD has chosen not to share local revenue (e.g. property tax) equally with BCS, leaving BCS with more than a $5,000 shortfall per student annually. To close the gap the Bullis foundation asks for a $5,000 donation per student. This is completely voluntary (emphasized again this week at back-to-school night) but opponents have steadily pushed the rumor that it's not.

Would the existence of a $5,000 ask, with rumors it might not be voluntary, tend to encourage or dissuade SED (lower-income) families from enrolling at BCS?

LASD has chosen to set up BCS with a shortage of facilities. Consequences have included half-day Kinder (using the same classrooms twice) and no after school care on site, simply to make the educational program work at all.

Would half-day Kinder and no after care tend to encourage or dissuade special needs and SED families from enrolling at BCS?

Despite these headwinds, BCS has managed to enroll disadvantaged students at a rate within the range of LASD schools. Perhaps this could be better.

LASD has a great deal of power and discretion to correct the funding and facilities shortfalls that disproportionately affect disadvantaged families. Maybe LASD can do their part? Or will they continue their vendetta instead?


6 people like this
Posted by equityforallstudents
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 5:40 pm

equityforallstudents is a registered user.

The timing of this letter is thoughtful on LASD's part. Jeff is getting his ducks in a row to move the Egan school to the 10th site so a LASD community can have a shiny new school instead of BCS, regardless of the "community engagement process" that is just for show and tell. BCS is the bad guy. We just need to keep reminding everyone every so often that the charter school is just evil.

Today's topic of BCS behaving badly is their admissions practices of discrimination against socioeconomic status, learning difference, ESL, and so on. What a great excuse to write a scary letter! Looking forward to the next one that will certainly continue to delight the LASD followers and BCS haters. Always good to keep reminding everyone of the evil charter school especially come this winter when Jeff and Jessica make their big announcement to move Egan anyway into a shiny new school 5 years from now. Funny that 20% of the district attends the evil charter school. It is even funnier that the readers of the district rhetoric believe everything their trustees spoon feed them. Good luck getting SCCBOE to punish BCS and send them to bed without their supper. They have been down this path before and will have the same response.


20 people like this
Posted by For the children
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 6:40 pm

For the children is a registered user.

Dear Bullis Charter middle schoolers, you’re old enough to understand the letter at issue here, please read it and discuss amongst yourselves.

Web Link

Every bit of this was done for your benefit. How do you feel about it?

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Maybe...
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Maybe... is a registered user.

@ Political Ploy - In reading "Get along's" post, it seems plausible that the recent increase in/ manipulation of percentage of LASD ESL students may be from LASD reclassifying students who are bilingual as ESL. Otherwise, it is inexplicable. If anything, the district total of ESL/low income students should be decreasing considering that low income housing is being razed and all the new construction is high-rent so the incoming high-income students should be diluting the total low income population. Something fishy is going on...

Also, is reigniting this war with BCS really where we, as a district, want to go? Lawsuits, wasted money on litigation, anger and hate, the effect of this feud on the kids and the negative role modeling for conflict resolution. Sad...


36 people like this
Posted by Canuck amok
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm

Canuck amok is a registered user.

To be clear: pro charter voices here are agreeable with the proposal to preference LA Hills residents again? Seems like three points define the plane: no preference for NEC residents in a new BCS campus in MV, no preference for lower ses students in BMV, but preference for the .0001% in LAH. It’s all very clear now


14 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:22 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

This preference has very little effect. The point is that it was allowed when the charter school was created, because LASD closed a school. The charter was formed as a "conversion" charter according to state law, in order to keep that school open. LASD used a lot of legal mumbo jumbo to locate the charter on the Egan Campus 16 years ago, while it kept the closed school campus idle for 3 years. Basically this was LASD's effort to spite the people who formed a charter school in order to keep the school open. The reason LASD closed the school was that the particular school was the smallest one in LASD, only about 300 students whereas some of the others had been up to and even over 600 students.

Now ironically, LASD is faced with BCS having grown attached to the Egan campus and LASD has tried to bounce BCS away from Egan just to generate friction and confusion. But it was LASD that chose that location, 100%.

So the charter people said that they could operate a school at the original site even if it was only 300 kids. The superintendent of LASD at the time of the closure suggested that they explore opening a charter school and providing supplemental funding if they really cared to keep the old school operating, because LASD couldn't afford it.

Now LASD was embarrassed by the success of the charter in the early years, even with it relegated to left over portables at Egan and a very slip shod set up provided by LASD, also according to state law. So LASD miraculously found the money to reopen the closed school, on the thought that the charter would disappear as everyone would return. But what had happened was that the charter had gained roots throughout LASD, not just in LAH. It was thriving. LASD opened the new school and relocated the nearby students to attend that school, plus they increased the attendance area to cover parts of Los Altos along Los Altos Avenue for the first time, making them cross Foothill Expressway. That keeps the school up at 350 kids, roughly half from each side of the Expressway. It's still the most expensive school per student for LASD to operate. They spend a lot of money on the kids attending that school. The enrollment preference may have made a difference in the earlier days when there wasn't room for the tremendous demand from all the other parts of LASD. But these days, something like 1000 students already come from outside the preference area. The successor school, Gardner Bullis, maintains the enrollment of 325-350. This preference isn't generating much influence over the makeup of the charter, because they have expended it to 1100 kids. The charter wanted to expand the enrollment to 1200. LASD asked them not to. If LASD hadn't done this, they wouldn't need the attendance preference at all.

Along the way, LASD has done boneheaded things like making plans to locate the LASD charter school in Sunnyvale, which was totally illegal. If you say LASD is pure and sweet in all this, then you just haven't seen the whole history.

And for the record, half of Los Altos is in the high income bracket situation. It's prejudicial and inaccurate even to say that LAH is the highest income area in LASD. It's basically a lie. Many very well to do people live in all parts of LASD. Also, only a portion of LAH is in the preference area. Look at home values. There are plenty of $4 Million and $5 Million homes in Los Altos. There are plenty of $3 Million homes in LAH. There are a lot of homes in LAH with no kids in LASD. Don't jump to conclusions.


6 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

Politics is a registered user.

An LAH preference is highly unpopular among BCS parents on the grounds that it's unnecessary and it feels elitist (yes that's bad, most BCS parents are progressive, too). And opponents can easily make it into a weapon of negative politics.

The preference is not a proposal, and it's not new. This preference is already written into the charter and has been there from the beginning, to protect LAH from again losing their neighborhood school. The BCS Board has shown they consider negotiation to be a possibility.

LASD intentionally conflated this with two other disingenuous accusations of discrimination, the 10th site and Bullis Mountain View.

LASD tried to railroad BCS into the Kohl's site which nobody wanted, via a sham "open" process with the outcome predetermined. Ultimately the Mountain View City Council placed a condition on the $120 million land deal that the site must be used for a neighborhood school or junior high. BCS, being a district-wide K-8 school, said no thanks. It's quite a stretch to say this was about discrimination.

Bullis Mountain View was founded with the same principles as BCS, with the additional intent of serving disadvantaged students. A few of the founding team had history with BCS, but BMV was always a separate entity from BCS, with its own board and charter application. In this case the MVWSD tried to railroad BMV into conditions that would override the charter (charter law does not allow this) and give MVWSD more power to shut BMV down. The condition at issue here was a de facto quota system that MVWSD could easily manipulate, for example by placing BMV in facilities far away from most SED families. BMV said no thanks, then MVWSD promptly and loudly accused BMV of discrimination!

So LASD's letter is more of a negative political hit piece than anything factual or substantiated.


32 people like this
Posted by No bueno MV Voice
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 11:02 am

No bueno MV Voice is a registered user.

This MV-Voice leadership has been infiltrated by pro-charter interests. They are in the tank for the Bullis board. So much for local media objectivity


10 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2019 at 12:01 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Interesting. I thought the story left out context that helps fuel criticism of charter schools. If you read the letter that LASD lawyers composed, it is largely about special education funding. That's the bulk of the discrimination that LASD is accusing this charter of. The detail about the preference is a small sidenote, and really isn't much of a case of discrimination at all.

But the state only funds charters to the minimum school district level, not the double level enjoyed by rich districts like LASD. Special education is mostly not funded. As a result, LASD can afford to spend much more than most districts in California on their special education students. The state doesn't actually require that much spending. Otherwise the less well funded districts would just go bankrupt.

LASD loves to say Bullis gets cheap-to-educate students, which is just not accurate. In the case of special education they are invoking a catch-22. Some of the special education students in LASD are receiving services costing LASD $300,000 per year. The state only funds Bullis around $8,000 per student with maybe $1000 extra for a special education students. Now other districts don't spend $300,000 or $400,000 for the severe special education needs. LASD can do it because it gets a budget of around $15,000 per student and has way more than enough to do the education for most of the students. That leaves it able to well fund Special Education, whether it be an extra $100,000 for this student or an extra $500,000 for that student. It's basically actuarial odds.

But the lawyers are claiming that all charter schools discriminate if they don't somehow make up that funding shortfall between the $15,000 per students spent in LASD and the $8,000 provided in state funds to the charter school in such a way that they provide equally comprehensive services for very expensive special education students and get them into the charter school too. But the services provided in LASD are much more comprehensive than is provided in districts only funded at the state basic levels provided to the charter school, even if it is operating in LASD. So the catch 22 says a charter school can't operate in LASD because LASD students are used to too much spending to get along on the state funding. QED BCS is bad and LASD is good.

BCS may raise private contributions to make up the shortfall in the funding spent on the typical students in LASD with the basic Special Education services include, but it's quite another thing for them to raise enough money to provide $1 Million in services to an outlier special education need for just one student, or even $300,000 for another. The program LASD has for such students is limited to just 80 or so students. There's no logic in replicating that program in a charter school to serve a proportionate number of such students. Basically, the program LASD has for 80 total such students depends on grouping them according to similar needs and providing services to 5 to 10 of them at once in special classes. So LASD's lawyers say catch 22, we can't tolerate charter schools here because we have too much money and the charter won't get but half the funding we have unless they raise $100's of thousands of dollars for the occasional special education student who needs it. For BCS to do this, it would have to spend even more per student, through lack of an economy of scale. LASD even accepts some such students with funding from other districts, to bulk up its own scale for cost saving reasons. BCS contracts for special education from the County Office, which cannot afford to spend at the same comprehensive level spent by LASD. It's all very complicated and the lawyers are capitalizing on that to write a nasty letter with no real basis in fact.


3 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 12, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Politics is a registered user.

And despite the funding issues, some parents have moved their special needs kids from LASD to BCS because they felt their kids would be better served.


4 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 12, 2019 at 7:50 pm

jack is a registered user.

Not anothe dime for your child care. Not. Another. Dime.


9 people like this
Posted by LASD is Desperate
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2019 at 10:28 pm

LASD is Desperate is a registered user.

There's no evidence of admission/lottery impropriety on the part of Bullis. Those making baseless allegations against individuals should really ask themselves whether there can be grounds for a defamation lawsuit.


6 people like this
Posted by My Endless Love
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 12, 2019 at 11:16 pm

My Endless Love is a registered user.

Let’s get real. Discrimination and segregation have alway been and are still very popular. In case you didn’t know, it’s the brightest people who are the best at rationalizing and justifying choices, this isnt very complicated. Giving parents free market choices like charters in a public system is fuel for the fires of inequity. Of course the choosers will have fifty reasons why their flavor of segregation isn’t so bad


11 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2019 at 11:51 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The long letter has to be considered along with district stances and actions of the past. There are a lot of contradictions. If they think the preference is a problem, how can they also say the lottery is rigged? The two together would be redundant. For the preference to matter, they must be assuming the lottery is fair.

This is a district which has some problems. The problems are with the parents, not with the students. The schools act as a social club for the parents, more than is healthy. This is not the case with the charter school. Some of the appeal to parents to choose the charter school are to escape the hierarchy at the school PTA's. I don't see that this is any sort of discrimination created by the charter school. Everyone has a potential "out."

Another thing the district does is to make a big deal about Kindergarten admissions. Everyone has to sign up early in the calendar year 8 months before the school year begins. People who don't move in until later are just excluded from entry into the lottery to go to their neighborhood school, if there is a shortage of space at their grade levels. Lately the district has been spending a lot of money and effort at "marketing" the default option to try to convince people they don't want to join the charter school. They don't even know yet who is interested in the charter. A large part of those interested do get into the charter, owing to it having expanded to over 1100 students this year. The charter has been doing its part to be non-elitist and welcoming. You really can't say the same thing about the traditional schools. The kids in an attendance area may not qualify in the competition for the limited number of slots at their grade level. Not only that, but they may have to go quite a distance to reach a school which has room.

Then there is a big issue. There are 800 kids who live north of El Camino Real and are split between 3 different attendance areas for 3 different schools in Los Altos. Each of thse families is treated as a "guest" in the Los Altos neighborhood where the school is located. It sounds friendly, but in the end, it just isn't. This is a real sort of discrimination. The charter school gives them a chance to opt for a school where they aren't a guest, but are on an equal footing with the others. So LASD clearly discriminates in their treatment of these families. A contradiction to their claims in the memo.

Consider that if LASD believes they need to market, aren't they admitting that the parents have a respectable chance of success should they opt for the charter school?

As further evidence of the discrimination against the Mountain View kids north of El Camino Real, just look at the "Save our Neighborhood Schools" campaign organized by the dominant faction of parents in the district. They really work to silence any concerns for those in Mountain View north of El Camino Real. They act like the most important thing is for there to be no change in the locations of schools as they now exist, even though not one of the 3 neighborhoods north of El Camino Real has any sort of LASD facility located within it. Those people just don't count. LASD has even suggested that this is the fault of the charter school, and that the charter school should de-emphasize other areas of LASD and focus on a preference for the areas north of El Camino Real. If LASD believes the charter is cheating, how can they suggest such a solution? Again, what they are saying is that the charter school is fine and would meet the educational needs of the overlooked Mountain View kids just fine. That's a contradiction if I ever saw one.

There's no segregation in effect by having a charter school. Everyone has a chance. LASD has blocked efforts by the charter to present at Santa Rita and Almond in an effort to reach the parents of low income incoming kindergarten kids. They have disparaged the charter as an option for these families. And then with a straight face they accuse the charter of not admitting such kids. But LASD basically keeps them from applying.

The thing is, the charter always has a fixed number of spaces. Broadening the entrant base in the lottery doesn't change that. It would just remove this old saw about how the low income kids don't go to the charter. The charter really has been trying. LASD is what is messing up the inclusion of more low income kids, not the charter. Yep, another contradiction with what their lawyers are saying in this very expensive legal memo.


9 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 12:09 am

LongResident is a registered user.

There is some evidence that the charter's lottery truly is random. They have kids who live in all 7 attendance areas of the district, in roughly the same proportion regardless of which assigned school you look at. However, the smallest representation is from one of the two schools with the lowest proportion of low income students, i.e. Oak Avenue Elementary school. The distribution of kids is even throughout the district. The charter school even has a lot of kids from Mountain View north of El Camino Real. about 12% of the charter students have come from this area. They reported this in their application for facilities. It's not true that Los Altos Hills is the source of a non-proportional number of students in the charter, even though they have had an enrollment preference all along.


25 people like this
Posted by Mortified
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 13, 2019 at 8:40 am

Mortified is a registered user.

@For the children

Great point

If “LongWinded” (aka “”LongResident”) has any children I wonder if they would ever read the district letter to the county (including the La poll letter)

They would more likely be mortified than proud.


19 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 1:32 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The legal team which wrote that lengthy memo for the LASD Board to sign probably cost them over $25,000 per page. They certainly use excessive verbage to try to make their claims sound reasonable. However, the glaring omission is that there is no discussion of the variations in the demographics they describe between the other schools in LASD. They use the length to try to cover up the fact that they aren't giving a complete picture. In contrast, my responses above may be lengthy but each covers a different valid aspect of the way in which the legal team's argument falls short. Each is way shorter than the expensive paid hit piece composed for the Board.


10 people like this
Posted by Get-along
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Get-along is a registered user.

Regarding the lottery, BCS is very open. It is a blind random draw, so the public can attend the drawing. Furthermore, they publish, and have been publishing the enrollment preferences which were approved by the Santa Clara Office of Education. So people posting these accusations are doing so without merit. In addition, the preference for kids in the Bullis-Purrissima boundary was put into place because LASD initially closed the school. This was the reason why BCS was created in the first place. It makes complete sense that they were given preference in the lottery process. That said, They published their intent to gradually get rid of this preferential tier, which actually happened after this school year.

Though I can appreciate everyone's passion on both sides of the debate, let's all make comments based on facts, not assumptions or rumors. These types of comments only add to the problem and causes bad feelings between the schools.

Regarding the lottery:
Web Link

History of Bullis-Purrissima
Web Link



11 people like this
Posted by LongTime-MV
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Sep 13, 2019 at 3:46 pm

LongTime-MV is a registered user.

As an ex-BCS parent (both kids are now in HS) it's clear that there are number of trolls that have posted here that have no idea what they are talking about, nor do they have any interest in understanding what's really going on.

I will just add one thing - for those that are homeowners in the area and are upset that BCS gets funded through the state - you should be upset at your school board from 15 years ago, not the school today.

And for those parents in LASD that are upset BCS is more desirable than any of their "neighborhood" schools - you should be looking at your own schools, and wondering why BCS is so in demand. The purpose of a school is to educate - the test scores and the achievement level of students coming out of BCS are higher (on average) than your neighborhood schools. Our first-hand experience was very similar (as I've said before - BCS accelerated our kids' math skills by a full year over their peers at other schools).

Instead of whining about BCS - maybe think about how you influence LASD to adopt some of BCS' best practices, or move your kids to BCS - because for math & science it is just better. Both our kids attended LASD until they moved to BCS (because our neighborhood school area got redrawn).

Don't be so lazy that you hold your own kids' potential back - try focusing on how to give them a better education (which is the whole point, isn't it?)


3 people like this
Posted by a reminder
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 14, 2019 at 7:32 am

a reminder is a registered user.

This seems a good time to remind that ”elections have consequences” isn’t just a punch line. If you don’t like these policies replace the policy makers in the next election. Be prepared to work hard a raise a lot of money because the charter school industry and lobby are very wealthy, and they love this little charter school. Their lawyers also love legal battles.


10 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2019 at 2:50 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

This is a unique situation for a charter school. #1 LASD is a very well performing school district in an extremely high income area, relative to the entire district. You could leave Los Altos Hills out and the high income designation would still apply. #2 This charter school has expanded greatly in an effort to be inclusive of the district as a whole. It's up at 1100 students this year and wanted to go at least to 1200 students with no particular limit on future growth beyond that. #3 At the same time, the population of kids in the country has started to decline, and this area is no different. So, the proportions in the charter school are different that when they started.

There are 9 traditional schools in LASD, and it is headed toward serving 3600 students (down from 4200 students last year, estimate 3850 this year) as the population declines over the next 5 years. So with the charter school serving 1200, it equals the population of 1/3 of the district's other schools but all within one K-8 program.

How can it be viewed as serving the top 1% when it serves 25% of the total? This isn't some small minority operation which is elite and excludes the rest of the people. It's not something where democracy is being thwarted. It also currently saves the district a lot of money by assuming responsibility for so many of the kids with so much less public money per student. Plus it has credentialed teachers and more of them per student than the rest of LASD, and they get the standard state retirement benefits and equivalent medical insurance.


29 people like this
Posted by Private benefit at public cost
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Private benefit at public cost is a registered user.

charter schools are just one more example of privatization of a public institution, which some people like quite a lot both selfishly and philosophically, but this erodes the commons. fifteen years of this argument next door is enough proof for me. this isn’t about the kids it’s about the wacko pain in the [***] parents


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