January 27, 2015

NSCW 2015 — Upcoming hearing in California Supreme Court on charter schools

By Joshua P. Thompson Senior Attorney

Over a year ago, PLF filed a California Supreme Court brief in California Charter Schools Association v. LAUSD. Right in time for National School Choice Week, the Court issued an order last week setting the case for oral argument on February 4.  After oral argument, the case is “submitted” and the court will have 90 days to issue its decision. That means we should have a final decision sometime in late April or early May.

As I noted when PLF filed its brief, this case is extremely important for the future of charter schools in California.  In a nutshell, the Los Angeles Unified School District has ignored charter school regulations that require it to treat charter schools fairly by giving them facilities and funding that is “reasonably equivalent” to those enjoyed by traditional public schools.  LAUSD basically admits that it failed to follow the regulations, arguing instead that it shouldn’t have to because, well, it doesn’t want to. Needless to say, this is a very strange argument, but even stranger is that the court of appeal agreed. Its brief opinion only states that “anomalous results” would ensue if LAUSD had to follow the law. Fortunately, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The import of this case is self-evident.  If the state’s largest school district can simply ignore the regulations because it doesn’t like the results, then nothing is stopping every other school district in the state from ignoring the regulations. These regulations, it should be added, were adopted after California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 39 in 2000, requiring school districts to treat charter schools fairly. So not only is LAUSD ignoring the text of the regulations, it’s thumbing its nose at California voters who want kids to have every opportunity to attend charter schools.

PLF attorneys plan on attending the Supreme Court’s hearing next Wednesday, and will be sure to report our thoughts of the argument. You can read more about the case here.

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