Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District were scheduled to meet in court last week, but charter school attorneys declined to make arguments after a judge tentatively ruled in favor of the school district.
The motions involved the charter school’s lawsuit over whether district-provided facilities are “reasonably equivalent,” as mandated by Proposition 39, approved by voters in 2000.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas ruled on two motions last week, both charter school arguments against the district’s cross-complaint.
In the cross-complaint, district officials requested that the court rule on whether they are required to provide Bullis Charter School with any facilities – or fewer of them – based on the charter school’s practices, which they claim do not align with the intent of Proposition 39.
The charter school’s legal team filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) motion and a demurrer against the district’s cross-complaint.
Anti-SLAPP suits are designed to protect an individual’s or organization’s First Amendment rights of petition and speech. The demurrer – an objection that an opponent’s point is irrelevant or invalid – included Bullis Charter School’s arguments against the validity of the cross-complaint.
Lucas’ tentative ruling did not support the charter school’s arguments and ultimately denied its motion to strike the cross-complaint.
As a result, the district will be able to pursue its cross-complaint, which asks the court to determine how the charter school’s fundraising and admissions practices impact the district’s obligation to allocate public school facilities fairly under Proposition 39.
Lucas further rejected the charter school’s attempt to dismiss the district’s request to have access to student names and addresses under the Public Records Act, an effort to verify the charter school’s enrollment numbers.
“By allowing the district to pursue its cross-complaint, the court is allowing the district to bring to the table the full array of information that should be considered when determining how the district can meet its obligation to share fairly public school facilities with all students under Proposition 39,” said Doug Smith, president of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees.
Ken Moore, charter school board chairman, said that while the charter school’s legal team argued that they didn’t think the district’s cross-complaint made a “legal claim,” the judge ruled that it fell within an exception.
“It just allows their case to move forward,” Moore said. “They have to prove their baseless allegations.”
Lucas has yet to issue a final ruling on the two motions, but after hearing no arguments on her tentative ruling, a final ruling likely would be similar.
Arguments addressing the cross-complaint and whether the facilities are reasonably equivalent have yet to be heard in the case.