UPDATED: LASD Says Bullis Skims Affluent Students

Los Altos School District takes off the gloves, says BCS admissions practices leave English learners, those with disabilities and Latino students for district to educate, in responding to the charter school's suit.


Editor's Note: We've updated this story to include responses that are now available from Bullis Charter School Chairman Ken Moore and board member Anne Marie Gallagher.

Calling Bullis Charter School’s request “over the top,” and a “reverse-Robin-Hood demand,” the Los Altos School District answered, in court papers, Tuesday that nothing in Prop. 39 law nor in legal precedence requires it to close a high-performing school campus in order to give it to the charter school.

Taking off the gloves, the school district responded acidly in opposition to the charter school’s July 3 request that Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas compel the district to obey the state law requiring school districts to provide “reasonably equivalent facilities.”

The district defended its methodology and its reason for believing its 2012-13 offer was in full compliance with the law. The district's memorandum of points and authorities are found on the district's website with the rest of its legal papers.

The district's arguments also entered new ground.

For the first time in the long history of litigation, the district raised the issue of money and elitism. It contended that the charter school skims the cream of the student population, leaving the district to educate those that cost more money to educate, then asks the court to close a school with hard-won high test scores. “BCS’s demand that the Court order a school closure is over the top,” the district said.

“It applies admissions preferences and other exclusions to enroll the affluent while excluding those with special needs, ELLs (English Language Learners) and minorities,” the response read. “Its enrollment of Hispanics or Latinos (2.5 %), ELLs (less than 1%) and students with disabilities (6%) are far below District averages in each category.”

The charter school (BCS) filed suit for the 2012-13 school year, asking the judge to compel the district to negotiate for more facilities space at Egan Junior High School for the upcoming year, and then to order the district to provide a campus to BCS by giving it Almond, Gardner Bullis, Santa Rita, or part of Covington School.

"The District's rhetoric is disappointing, but not surprising," BCS Chairman Ken Moore said flatly. "They ignore a simple truth: our K-6 students remain on a temporary camp site that the court of appeals said was too small.

"The trial court will understand that."

In responding to the BCS motion, the district countered the charter school’s contentions on three major points.

The district contended that “BCS’s ‘Me-First’ and exactitude demands ignore the rights of others.”

“BCS … disregards that if the district places BCS’ 466 students on its own site, that would cause huge impacts from closing a neighborhood school that are not measured in numerical facilities comparisons and also force the District to crowd its 4,500-plus other students onto eight sites. That would leave BCS ahead of all others in Prop 39 facilities alone … Again, ‘reasonable equivalence’ does not mean better than everyone else.”

In addition to legal briefs, there were 12 declarations filed by LASD staff, board members and contracted professionals, from architects to CPAs. Five district parents filed declarations, some describing their views of the potential impact of BCS’s request to close a district school. The Uhler family described how they had enrolled their daughter in kindergarten at BCS, but as her special education needs manifested itself, staff was not only unresponsive, but the child's teacher was hostile. In the end, they said, they felt as if they were "pushed out" purposely.

“Proposition 39 requires that facilities be shared fairly between District and students in charter schools that operate as a public school,” said LASD Board President Mark Goines.

“We don’t believe that the District should be forced to close one of its high-performing schools and ignore the impact on its students and families. We would prefer to collaborate with BCS and our community to identify a long-term solution that meets everyone’s needs and avoids further divisive legal actions.”

Anne Marie Gallagher, a BCS board member, said the district's attorneys were simply "throwing everything they can think of at the wall and hoping something will stick" as part of its had "win-at-all-costs" strategy. "They seem to have forgotten that we are all neighbors, and we are engaged in this issue because we all care about children, families and education." 

Judge Patricia M. Lucas will conduct a hearing on BCS’ motion on August 15.

Kyle July 31, 2012 at 04:06 AM
In one of the declarations that was filed it indicates that they filed a complaint with the AG's office. The exhibits do not appear to be included on the district's website, but quite a few things were referenced. Could a real issue for the Board and principal if the facts support fully the assertion.
Concerned August 06, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I work at one of the schools that serves the lower income students. Unfortunately, many go to bed hungry at night. For some families the free lunch the children receive at school is their only meal and the left overs are share with the parents after school. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Some of these families share small apartments with other families so their children can attend school in the LASD. Often, the parents are illiterate in their own language and work for extremely low wages, but make these sacrifices because they want so much more for their children. It's time for the community to rethink the way we see the world around us.
David August 06, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I didn't think about your comment until Concerned replied. Yes, there are truly some very poor kids in LASD, you shouldn't overlook that. But LASD doesn't participate in the Federal program to pay for the free lunches any more, and BCS never did. There is a lot of trouble to do that. But BOTH do still give out free lunches paid for by the other parents. BCS doesn't count these people in the numbers it reports but LASD still may. You can get the reported year-old data off the web site http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/App_Resx/EdDataClassic/fsTwoPanel.aspx?#!bottom=/_layouts/EdDataClassic/profile.asp?tab=1&level=07&ReportNumber=16&County=43&fyr=1011&District=69518&School=6047492 I don't think it's clear that the sharing of apartments by families applies any more to LASD than it does to Mountain View - Whisman, which has an even larger proportion of free and reduced price lunch programs. These people live in their apartments to be closer to their jobs.
Joan J. Strong August 07, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Thank you, "Concerned", for reminding everybody that $5000 is a lot of money (a fantastically insurmountable amount of money) for some people, and that not every child is fortunate enough to have the "super mom" romanticized in charter school industry propaganda flicks like Waiting for Superman. None of these parents you speak of are going to be out looking for a fabulous "charter school" to send their children. It's all they can do to make sure their kids to get to the bus stop every morning. Quite the contrary, it's these children that both charter schools and charter school parents actively try to avoid. This is the two-tiered society that Charters envision: one school system for the lucky ones, and another for the less fortunate. Contrary to the "great equalizer" vision of public schools held by the Founding Fathers of our country, this new system achieves the exact opposite. Charters WIDEN the achievement gap and entrench it like never before.
richard warner November 19, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I was so surprised after getting to know that Los Altos School does not allows report cards for public. These records should be available for public because many people want to get information regarding these types of public records. For more information regarding California public records visit: http://www.recordsbase.com/resources/public-records/california


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