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Bullis' acceptance of Egan camp indefinite

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Children's Corner Program Director Christine Losch and teachers Laura Bernal and Jan Allen together have 49 years of service at Children's Corner. The play-based preschool is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a picnic in Shoup Park Saturday.

The board of Bullis Charter School may have accepted Los Altos School District's offer of Egan camp school for next year; then again, it may not. It's hard to tell.

In a letter to Marge Gratiot, district superintendent, Peter Evans, chairman of the Bullis Site Task Force, said the Bullis board accepted the offer "under duress, under protest, and without waiving any legal rights of Bullis Charter School under applicable local, state or federal law, such as Proposition 39 rights and remedies."

In her reply to Evans' letter, Gratiot questioned whether the Bullis board's acceptance meets the legal requirements of Proposition 39. "(Y)our response raises an issue as to whether you have accepted our offer on a timely basis or whether you have in fact rejected our offer by your action, and we reserve all rights to take action accordingly. We note that since the date of the final offer, BCS has filed no formal objections to the offer," she wrote.

Evans' letter stated that a lack of or a delay in the provision of facilities could prevent the charter school from opening next fall. He said that none of the "problems with the preliminary facilities offer" had been resolved in the district's final offer.

"We are available to work with you … to implement the offer as quickly as possible, including those adjustments we have discussed that appear to be agreeable to both parties, such as identifying the configuration of specific land and buildings to be provided," he wrote.

Gratiot responded, "(A)t no time has our facilities allocation and decision-making process prevented the Bullis Charter School from attempting to locate or secure an alternative facility to ensure that it would be able to open its program as planned. The Los Altos School Board has no duty to ensure that your school opens on time. Its duty is to provide a reasonably equivalent facility to house in-district students, which it has done through an entirely open and timely process. The fact that Egan camp school was a likely choice of the board has been known to BCS for several months. If BCS is now 'under duress' with respect to locating a facility, that is a result of its own doing, and the district takes no responsibility for it."

For several months, subcommittees of the school district and the charter school have met to discuss facilities and site matters, and both groups had reported encouraging results from the meetings. Since offering Egan to the charter school a month ago, the district has met with the Bullis Site Task Force to make adjustments to the offer in accordance with the committee's requests, Gratiot said.

"Frankly, we feel it is nothing less than bad faith to use public resources to avail yourselves of the benefits of Proposition 39 while attempting to retain your ability to sue us for making those facilities available. … We regard BCS's intent to occupy the offered space as an acceptance of its sufficiency under the law, and will require BCS to so agree in executing a Facilities Use Agreement," she wrote. "(However,) your acceptance letter casts serious doubt on BCS's motives and intentions in this regard."

Gratiot informed Evans that the district would give the Bullis board a copy of the proposed Facilities Use Agreement for the site early this week. If the Bullis board does not sign the agreement, the facilities allocation will be stalled.

Gratiot commented last Friday, "Personally, I'm disappointed that there was ambiguity in their response, as I had hoped the issue would be settled and we could move on to other things. I would think they would want the site settled too, so they can start to plan their educational program and have a firmer grasp on how many students they will have."

Evans could not be reached for comment before press time.

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