The Santa Clara County Office of Education Board of Trustees last week reviewed the possibility of appointing a representative to the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.
As the sponsoring agency for Bullis Charter School, the county board has the authority to appoint one person to the school board, though it cannot be a county board member.
“We don’t have any specific criteria (for the candidate) yet,” county board President Joseph Di Salvo said. “We had vague points, such as the member should be from the Los Altos community, neutral, a supporter of the Bullis model. They shouldn’t be contrary, that is pretty clear.”
Peter Evans, the community representative serving on the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors, said he agreed that an appointee would need to support the charter school and its mission.
“(The appointment) should be a measure that helps the school,” Evans said. “For us, it has to be someone who is totally committed to the school and its mission. The absence of that would potentially be dysfunctional.”
The county board recently renewed Bullis’ charter for another five years, to the chagrin of many Los Altos School District parents. The contentious eight-year relationship between the district and charter school has included multiple lawsuits, many of them over facilities allocation.
The school district is required to provide Bullis with “reasonably equivalent” facilities, per Proposition 39 education law. The charter school is currently housed in portables on the Egan Junior High School campus, a Los Altos School District property that the Sixth District Court of Appeal recently ruled failed to meet Prop. 39 standards.
Fearing that a district school may have to close to provide the charter school its own campus, many district parents have called on the county board to appoint a representative to the charter school’s unelected board.
Di Salvo said appointing a Bullis Charter School member would facilitate county board communication with the charter. The board discussed the proposal, he said, in a larger framework that would include all of the county’s charter schools.
“When or if we do this, we need to be very thoughtful,” he said. “We need to be very methodical and do it as wisely as possible so as not to fuel any of the flames.”
Los Altos School District Board Trustee Tammy Logan, who attended the April 18 meeting, said she favors the county board appointing a representative to the charter board.
“I agree this is something they should be doing at all their charter schools,” she said. “They don’t have the staff to oversee all these charter schools to any level of detail. If they had someone who could provide them a report of what is going on, they would have more insight on day-to-day operations.”
The board assigned county Superintendent Charles Weis the task of reviewing best practices across the state and nation when dealing with appointees to charter school boards and developing a list of requirements for the appointee.
“I hope the board sees some solutions that give us ideas,” Di Salvo said.
The board is scheduled to continue discussing the appointment and may take action at its May 2 meeting.