As Los Altos School District trustees labored to put the finishing touches on their facilities offer for Bullis Charter School last week, they received an earful from charter school parents.
More than 20 Bullis Charter School parents pleaded with trustees during their March 24 board meeting for more equitable facilities for their children, claiming that the district discriminates against charter school students.
The final facilities offer for the 2014-2015 school year was due Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
The parents sought assurance that the district would provide equivalent furnishings, play space and classroom space for all in-district charter school students next year. They requested play space at Blach Intermediate School for fifth- and sixth-graders as well as a multipurpose space that is not a 1,440-square-foot portable unable to house 200 people at once and that must serve as many different types of spaces for the school.
One charter school parent described turning a conversation with her daughter about not being allowed to play on the grass into a lesson about discrimination, discussing how Rosa Parks was told to sit at the back of the bus.
When asked her response to the charter school parents’ allegations of discrimination, district board of trustees President Tammy Logan responded, “Comparing the situation for any child at our schools to Rosa Parks is a bit outrageous – that is the bottom line.”
District administrators said they were perplexed at the charter school’s many complaints about play space at the Blach campus, explaining that there is an effective sharing schedule already in place for lunch and recess.
Bullis Charter School for Innovation Assistant Principal Alison Schwartzbaum acknowledged that while there is a space-sharing plan, it has only been in place since February.
“Sharing is working right now,” she said. “But it didn’t work for a period of time, which engenders concern about what the district means when they say ‘share.’ Sharing is a qualified term and isn’t clear-cut. It would be wonderful if we had space that is designated as our space so there would be certainty about what is going on.”
The charter school’s response to the district’s preliminary facilities offer asked for exclusive use of some blacktop space, a space to build a play structure and exclusive use of the baseball field at Blach.
Schwartzbaum added that there are still restrictions around physical education time that place a strain on her program.
Trustees discuss facilities, enrollment
Trustees also discussed details of the facilities offer at Egan Junior High School, which houses the charter school’s younger students.
After receiving feedback from the charter school and comparing district kindergarten classroom facilities with the charter school’s, the trustees directed staff to offer the charter school three additional portables for K-4 students next year – instead of moving them to the Blach campus.
District trustees and charter school officials are still far apart on their projected enrollment figures, with the district estimating 605 in-district students and the charter predicting 678.
After trustees requested additional information from charter school officials, charter school board member Sang Yoo responded that the charter school could share more data about the registrants after the school year ends, but sharing it now would constitute a violation of the school’s charter.
Logan said she didn’t understand why the charter would allow Bullis to share that information in June but not currently, given that registrants are not official students of the charter school at either time. Logan noted that the portable acquisition process takes more than 60 days, making it difficult to effect change by June.
See next week’s Town Crier for details of the final offer.