Bullis Charter School filed a new lawsuit Sept. 12 that claims the Los Altos School District failed to follow the Proposition 39 mandate to provide reasonably equivalent facilities.
The charter school’s previous lawsuit is still on the table, awaiting judgment from Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas on whether she has jurisdiction to compel the district to follow the Sixth District Court of Appeal’s 2011 ruling on a previous facilities offer.
In the new legal filing, Bullis Charter School requested that the matter be consolidated with its existing case – hopefully continuing Lucas’ jurisdiction over the case.
“While Judge Lucas has not ruled on this procedural point, we filed this related action in order to accelerate relief and ensure that the Court may substantively consider all of Los Altos School District’s many ongoing legal violations without further delay,” wrote Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors, in a letter to charter school parents last week.
The arguments in the new suit are similar to those outlined in the previous case. The new case takes issue with the allocation of furniture and facilities offered at the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The legal paperwork also points to last-minute changes in the facilities offer, specifically reneging on the charter school’s access to the City Gym at Egan Junior High School.
Charter school lawyers asked the court to compel the school district to accommodate the charter’s K-8 program on one contiguous site, provide reasonably equivalent furniture, abide by the 2012-2013 final facilities offer, count all space at all the comparable schools and provide the charter school with facilities based on the charter school’s documented enrollment projections.
The charter school lawyers also requested a court-appointed representative to oversee the annual facilities negotiation between the district and the charter school.
“None of this is a surprise,” Doug Smith, Los Altos School District trustee, wrote on his blog last week. “Most of it is copy/ paste from prior suits and their various last-minute additions to their earlier motion. As I said, I look forward to a complete and full airing of the facts. I think that the judge will determine that we’ve followed the law, and acted within our reasonable discretion as elected trustees.”
Charter school lawyers filed the most recent lawsuit after filing a motion to recover approximately $1.3 million in legal fees from their previous lawsuit over the 2009-2010 facilities offer.
Last month, the district board authorized its legal team to prepare a cross-complaint, with similar arguments to the previous cases’ cross-motion, should the charter school file a new lawsuit.
The original cross-motion questioned whether the charter school’s admissions and fundraising practices affect its claim on district facilities. The motion included more than 100 pages of evidence gathered from parents who have interacted with the charter school.
Smith said the district has discussed the possibility of filing a separate lawsuit to enforce the Public Records Act and compel the charter school to share its students’ address information so that the district can confirm the charter school’s number of in-district admissions.