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Bullis Charter School turns to court

Photo Town Crier File Photo

Bullis Charter School students attend class in portables at Egan Junior High School.

Bullis Charter School will engage the Los Altos School District in court this summer as officials seek legal clarification on whether the facilities offered by the district meet education code.

Charter School officials sent a letter to LASD Superintendent Tim Justus June 2 addressing their concerns that the facilities offered by the district do not meet the requirements of the California education code. The district’s response compelled the charter school to seek legal action, according to school officials.

"The district response is wholly inadequate and only emphasizes our differing interpretations of their Proposition 39 obligations," said Ken Moore, charter school board president.

The charter school filed a petition in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, June 10 requesting the court to define the district's legal obligation to provide facilities for the charter school.

Proposition 39, passed in the 2000 election, states districts should provide "reasonably equivalent space" for charter school students who reside within district boundaries.

For years the Los Altos district and the charter school have contested the implementation of this mandate, with each convinced they have interpreted the code properly.

"We have been round and round on some of these issues for years with no real resolution," Moore said.

In its petition, charter school proponents outlined seven specific areas for the court's evaluation.

Topping the list is providing the charter school with facilities for a seventh-grade classroom, though charter school officials claim this is not the primary reason for seeking legal action.

Justus said the district did not provide facilities for a seventh-grade classroom because they were told that the seventh-grade program would be postponed until the 2010-2011 school year. The district allocates facilities one year at a time.

"We began the process based on the conversations we had with (charter school officials) on what they were going to need in 2009-2010," Justus said.

The charter school petition was initiated to ensure the district provides an adequate school campus, facilities and fields that are reasonably equivalent to those provided for the other public schools in the district. It outlines why the charter school community feels its current facilities are not "reasonably equivalent."

The petition charges the district with limiting the charter school's growth by not providing sufficient facilities. Justus said the district designates facilities each year based on the school's projected enrollment.

The petition further emphasizes the need for a solution to shared field usage between the charter school and Egan Junior High School.

Overall, Moore said, the purpose of taking this legal action is to provide a common framework on critical issues, which can provide a foundation for good faith dialogue moving forward.

For more information and access to legal documents pertaining to the case, visit www.bullischarterschool.com/prop39.asp.

Contact Traci Newell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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