CCSA Settles Lawsuit Against West Contra Costa Unified School District Seeking Parcel Tax Funding Equity for Charter Public School Students
March 3, 2016
Sacramento, CA - March 3, 2016 - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) announced a settlement with the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) in a lawsuit that was filed on May 6, 2014 in the Contra Costa County Superior Court. In the lawsuit, CCSA alleged that WCCUSD failed to provide students attending charter public schools in the district with voter-approved funding under Measure G.
"This is a win-win for WCCUSD families. By excluding students who attend charter public schools from equitable access to resources, the district was creating two classes of students within the public education system, literally disenfranchising charter school students from their fundamental right to education. These students never should have been overlooked in the first place and must be supported going forward. We are pleased that the district has agreed to terms that will ensure that all public school students are eligible for their fair share of funding in the spirit intended, and as voters mandated by passing Measure G by a 75% margin," stated Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA.
Following unsuccessful attempts at resolution via meetings and letters of request, CCSA subsequently sought recourse from the California courts to declare that the WCCUSD's allocation of parcel tax proceeds as unconstitutional and discriminatory, and to order the WCCUSD to equally and equitably distribute its parcel tax revenue so as to benefit all students within the WCCUSD, including students attending charter public schools. CCSA filed the lawsuit arguing that by excluding district students attending charter public schools from parcel tax revenue, WCCUSD was creating two classes of students in the public education system, and violating their fundamental right to education and equal protection as guaranteed by the California Constitution.
Additionally, CCSA argued that WCCUSD's decision to deny parcel tax proceeds unlawfully discriminates against African American students, Latino students and socio-economically disadvantaged students attending charter schools in WCCUSD in violation of state laws. Of the charter schools operating within WCCUSD during the 2012-13 school year, no school had less than 92% of its school enrollment composed of African American and Latino students. In addition, approximately 76% of students at those charter schools are socio-economically disadvantaged based on their eligibility for free and reduced price lunch. CCSA and WCCUSD have agreed to the following terms:
As a result of the settlement, the District will provide 50% of the proportionate share of Measure G parcel taxes to charter schools operating within its geographic boundaries, between the 2015/2016 school year through the 2018-19 school year.
Any new charter school that operates within the District, and is chartered by the District, the Contra Costa County Board of Education, or the State Board of Education shall be entitled to the proportionate share of parcel taxes.
If the District passes a new parcel tax measure during the current parcel tax measure (i.e., Measure G) the District shall provide charter schools operating within the school district with 100% of the proportionate share of the new parcel tax measure funding.
The District agrees to initiate the process to adopt a District Board policy providing that charter school in-district students are entitled to an equal share of the distribution of any future parcel tax measures approved by the electorate.
"CCSA strives to work with districts to ensure that ballot measures, parcel taxes, and bonds at the local level include all public school students, including charter public school kids whose parents are taxpayers and often are excluded from equitable benefits," emphasized Ricardo Soto, Senior Vice President, Legal Advocacy, CCSA. "However, when charter school students are not equitably treated by districts we will take appropriate action in the courts or at election time, working with our partner organization, CCSA Advocates, to ensure they are not treated as second-class public school students."
Passed by 75% of voters in November 2012, Measure G is a parcel tax measure that maintains quality education for students in WCCUSD. The purpose of Measure G funds is to protect core academics, attract and retain quality teachers, provide lower class sizes, ensure safety, and prepare students for college.
Charter public school students are entitled to the same level and quality of educational services as traditional public school students identified in Measure G, including all of the other essentials that the parcel taxes help to provide to public school students in district-run schools. California courts have declared that charter schools are part of California's public school system and students who attend charter schools are public school students. In addition, the California Legislature has also declared in law that charter schools are schools within the public school system, and are entitled to full and fair funding.
About the California Charter Schools Association The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at www.ccsa.org.
Press ContactSacramento and Central Valley
Britt Chord Parmley
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