Judge orders charter school to release financial data

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge last week ordered Bullis Charter School to provide information it had withheld during its suit seeking reimbursement from the Los Altos School District.

The charter school is suing the district for $1.3 million in legal fees stemming from the 2009-2010 case, which found the district failed to offer the charter school adequate facilities.

Through the discovery process, the district’s legal team has been seeking financial information from the charter school.

Arguments on the relevance of the information were heard Oct. 30.

Judge Patricia Lucas described the charter school’s argument against providing the information as “so contrary” to the purpose of discovery that it could not be “reasonably asserted.”

Lucas ordered the charter school legal team to provide:

• A copy of the charter school’s engagement letter or similar document in connection to its legal team.

• Documents or a description of Bullis Charter School’s solicitation of potential donors that refer to litigation or threatened litigation from 2009 to the present.

• The average sum Bullis Charter School parents donated to the school from 2008 to the present.

• The sums of the largest donors to the charter school foundation from 2009 to the present, and whether the donors have charter school students (or previous students) or other affiliations.

• Documents concerning any offers from the charter school to purchase Gardner Bullis School or any other school facilities.

Because the school district has spent money trying to ascertain this information since summer, the judge included a monetary sanction against Bullis in the amount of $51,085.60.

Following receipt of the order, the charter school’s legal team filed a motion to appeal the court’s monetary order to the Sixth Appellate District of the California Courts of Appeal.

“This is a ridiculous request,” said Arturo Gonzalez, lawyer for the charter school. “It is very disappointing that the court is asking this. Anyone who looks at this can see that this is completely baseless.”

Gonzalez said that while Bullis Charter School’s lawyers have filed an appeal over the monetary sanction, he also intends to appeal the request for information – which requires a different legal process.

“We intend to aggressively appeal this order,” he said.

Los Altos School District Trustee Doug Smith said the information is relevant to the case.

“It shows where the money came from and the amount of private resources they have available, and goes to show whether (the legal fees) were really a burden to them,” Smith wrote in an email to the Town Crier. “Also, it shows that they benefited from (the lawsuit).”

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