CCSA Statement: CCSA Discontinues Two Facilities-Related Lawsuits Against LAUSD

April 5, 2018

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Today Jed Wallace, President and CEO at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), released the following statement regarding CCSA's decision to discontinue pursuit of two facilities-related lawsuits against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and to focus renewed effort on working collaboratively with LAUSD to ensure every public school student--both traditional and charter-- has a stable, suitable place to learn.

As the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board searches for a new Superintendent and as District-charter collaboration is seeing a period of new positive momentum, now is time for all parties to come together and redouble our efforts to find solutions to challenges that most deeply affect all public school students and families, including facilities matters.

We have been encouraged to see that over the past several months, the LAUSD Board, leadership, and other District stakeholders have taken promising steps to move towards a fair, transparent, student-centered system that ensures all children attending Los Angeles public schools (traditional and charter) have access to a sustainable, quality learning environment.

In January the LAUSD Board authorized the creation of a new platform for public access to District data through its "Open Data Resolution" which lays the foundation for better informed policy-making on all issues that affect students and teachers, including facilities access. In March, District and charter students stood side-by-side at an LAUSD board meeting calling on the District to improve the Prop 39 process to ensure that all students have access to the learning space afforded to them by law. At the end of March, the LAUSD Advisory Taskforce, comprised of local civic and education leaders, released a report that recommends the District hire real estate experts by April 2018 to take a careful inventory of District property and create a comprehensive recommendation for their use by September 2018. And, just this week, citing the success of the District-charter "Applicable Policies Working Group," Board members called on the District to begin working towards sustainable solutions to benefit all public school students by pursuing multi-year facilities use agreements for charter public schools.

At this juncture, and as a gesture of goodwill, CCSA has decided to discontinue pursuit of its two facilities-related lawsuits against the District: California Charter School Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC438336, related to Prop 39 compliance, and California Charter School Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District, et al., California Court of Appeal Case No. B283774, related to the reduction of bond funding for charter schools by over $80 million from Measure Q.

Now is the time for everyone in Los Angeles to come together to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education, which starts with access to a sustainable learning environment. We are committed to working with our members and the District to build upon the positive momentum that now exists to craft the reasonable, common sense solutions needed to ensure that every public school student--both traditional and charter-- has a stable, suitable place to learn.

Background

All children need stable, suitable places to learn. For too long in Los Angeles, students whose families chose charter public schools have been deprived of sustainable learning environments because of bureaucracy that failed to put the needs of every Los Angeles student first by denying access to district school sites.

Before 2007, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD or District) made minimal attempts to comply with the law under Proposition 39, to the detriment of thousands of charter public school families. Proposition 39 (Prop 39) is a statewide ballot initiative, approved by the voters in 2000, that requires districts to provide access to school facilities for eligible charter schools to serve their students. The District refused to offer classrooms for students and teachers to many eligible charter schools in compliance with Prop 39.

So, in 2007, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) engaged in court action against LAUSD for the first time to protect the legal rights of charter public schools, students, and families in Los Angeles. In 2008, CCSA and LAUSD reached a settlement, which required the District to comply with Prop 39 by making an offer of space to all charter public schools who applied and met the legal requirements. The settlement also directed the District to complete a comprehensive facilities inventory to be made available to the public to better inform policy-making. In 2008, LAUSD breached the terms of the settlement, and did not offer space that year to nearly half of the charter public schools who applied and were eligible for school district facilities.

In 2010, CCSA had no choice but to file a second lawsuit to enforce the commitments of the District to charter public school students, teachers and families pursuant to the settlement. In December 2010, the Los Angeles Superior Court (Court) determined that LAUSD had breached the settlement agreement to comply with Prop 39 by failing to make facility offers to all eligible charter schools and their students, and issued an order directing the District to make offers to all eligible charter schools and comply with Prop 39. In 2012, the Court also issued an order against LAUSD prohibiting the use of district staffing ratios to calculate classroom offers to charter schools and their students under Prop 39. Ultimately, the California Supreme Court upheld the prohibition against using staffing ratios by LAUSD, and ordered the District to comply with the Prop 39 classroom methodology pursuant to law. As a result of the lawsuit, LAUSD increased its Prop 39 facility offers to charter schools and their students from 42 for the 2010-11 school year to 91 for the 2016-17 school year.

Despite this progress, District compliance challenges and inconsistencies related to Prop 39 have persisted for many schools, and CCSA's lawsuit has been an important tool to maintain the progress made on schools' behalf, and to address new issues that have emerged related to facilities access and equity.