Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas ruled in the Los Altos School District’s favor last week, publishing her finding on Bullis Charter School’s lawsuit regarding the 2012-2013 facilities offer.
In the suit, the charter school requested that the court compel the district to accept the charter school’s enrollment projections and allocate facilities accordingly. The charter school also asked for exclusive use of one-half of the City Gym at Egan Junior High School daily and for the district to provide an inventory of furnishings and equipment for comparable groups at other schools so that the district could provide “reasonably equivalent” furnishings and equipment, as mandated by Proposition 39.
Lucas weighed in on each of the three requests, supporting the district’s decisions in its current facilities offer.
“It is established that charter schools are not necessarily entitled to what they want but only what is reasonably equivalent,” her ruling stated. “There is no support for a holding that a district is utterly without discretion to accomplish the statutory goal of balancing the needs of charter and non-charter schools.”
Shortly after the ruling was announced, Bullis Charter School released a statement from Board of Directors Chairman Ken Moore.
“Earlier this week, we received an order from the trial court relating to three issues that we had raised with respect to the Los Altos School District’s conduct,” Moore wrote. “Unfortunately, the trial court ruled in favor of the district. We believe that the trial court got it wrong and we intend to appeal (its) decision.”
If the charter school pursues an appeal, it would mark its third appeal in a matter of weeks. The charter school recently appealed Lucas’ ruling on a previous facilities lawsuit and her order imposing monetary sanctions in the case for legal fees.
“The Court of Appeal decision in 2011 intended for Bullis Charter School students to be treated fairly,” Moore said. “The trial court responsible for implementing that decision has not granted relief on procedural grounds and we will continue to press on to ensure our students are treated equally and fairly.”
District officials classified Lucas’ latest decision as a victory.
“The district is heartened by this ruling because it has always endeavored to take the best interests of all its public school students into account, and this ruling affirms that it has the right to do so and made the right choices,” District Superintendent Jeff Baier said. “This ruling affirms that the district is permitted to exercise reasonable discretion and to balance the needs of all students when considering facilities issues. Having this direction from the court should provide some clarity for all parties and allow the district to focus more of our time and energies on doing what is best for children.”
District Board of Trustees President Mark Goines had pointed words to share in response to the ruling.
“Bullis’ appointed board needs to … accept the need to balance the interests of all students in facilities allocations,” he said. “Litigation is a wasteful approach to fairly serving the needs of all our students.”