Anderson USD v Shasta Secondary Home School


On October 17, 2016, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a decision reversing the Shasta County Superior Court decision denying Anderson Unified School District's request to enjoin Shasta Secondary Charter School from operating the Cottonwood Resource Center.

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Case Overview

In August 2013, the Anderson Unified School District ("District") filed a complaint against the Shasta Secondary Home School ("Shasta"), a nonclassroom-based charter school authorized by the Shasta union High School District, alleging that Shasta did not have legal authority to open a resource center within the District's boundaries because the geographic site restrictions found in the Charter Schools Act, Education Code sections 47605 and 47605.1. These sections require that charters operate schoolsites in the geographic boundaries of the school district but allow nonclassroom-based schools to establish "resource center, meeting space, or other satellite facility located" in a county adjacent to that in which the charter school is authorized. Since the District was in the same county as Shasta's authorizing district, the District argued that its resource center location was not allowed. Alternatively, the District argued that the resource center was a "schoolsite."

The trial court disagreed with the District's arguments. First, the court found that Shasta's site met the statutory definition of a resource center. Then, the court reasoned that the Legislature intended to distinguish a resource center, meeting space, or other satellite facility from a site or schoolsite, and that the lack of a specific restriction on in-county resource centers indicates a Legislative intent not to restrict such locations. Further, the court found that it would be an absurd result to allow charter schools to locate resource centers in adjacent counties, but not within the authorizing district's county and outside that district's boundaries.

In 2015, the District appealed, and the appellate court reversed the decision on October 17, 2016. The court found that no exception to the geographic site restrictions allows a charter school to operate a resource center outside the geographic boundaries of the authorizing school district but within the same county. Although not at issue in the case, the analysis confirms that resource centers identified in the charter and located either in the authorizing district's boundaries or in adjacent counties are allowed.

The court refused to consider the public policy considerations presented in this case, though finding them "intriguing and possibly persuasive." For example, CCSA and other amici curiae argued that the Legislature's goal in enacting AB 1994 was to increase oversight and competition. Instead, the court stated that "[c]onsiderations of public policy do not permit us to ignore the plain language of the statute."

CCSA has been engaged with the case since it was filed, due to the potential threat it has posed to the flexibility allowed for nonclassroom-based programs. CCSA filed a declaration at the trial court and amicus curiae brief at the appellate court. We will continue to work with charter schools who might be affected by the decision, and work to ensure the Legislature's public policy objectives with respect to charter schools are fulfilled.

Case Activity

  • October 17, 2016: Decision of the Third District Court of Appeal
  • December 4, 2015: CCSA, CSDC et al Request for Judicial Notice
  • December 4, 2015: CCSA, CSDC et al Amicus Brief in support of Shasta
  • December 4, 2015: Dehesa, Julian and Mountain Empire School Districts Amicus Brief in support of Shasta
  • December 4, 2015: Altus Institute Amicus Brief in support of Shasta
  • October 21, 2015: Shasta Respondent's Opening Brief
  • August 18, 2015: Anderson Appellant's Opening Brief

  • January 29, 2015: District files notice of appeal with Court of Appeal.

  • December 3, 2014: Trial Court Decision.

  • May 22, 2013: First amended complaint filed.

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