Proposition 39 Does Not Mandate That School Districts Place Charter Schools In A Particular Location

In Los Angeles International Charter High School v. Los Angeles Unified School District (--- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 2 Dist., October 11, 2012), a California Court of Appeal considered the challenge by a charter school to a school district’s decision to provide facilities at a site other than the Charter’s preferred location.  The appellate court ruled that Proposition 39 requires only that school districts make “reasonable efforts” to place charter schools “near” their desired location but does not require districts to provide charter schools with the specific requested location.

Facts

The Los Angeles International Charter High School (“LAICHS”) sought classroom space from the Los Angeles Unified School District (“District”) at Franklin High School (“Franklin”).  The District offered space at Belmont High School (“Belmont”).  Because LAICHS preferred the Belmont location, it alleged that the District had not complied with Proposition 39.  The trial court ruled that the District’s offer of facilities at Belmont complied with its Proposition 39 obligations.  LAICHS appealed and the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s decision.

Decision

Proposition 39, approved by voters in 2000, requires school districts to make facilities available to charter schools “in conditions reasonably equivalent to those in which the students would be accommodated if they were attending other public schools of the district.”  Proposition 39 requires the district to make “reasonable efforts” to provide the charter school with facilities near where the charter school wishes to locate, not to provide facilities at the exact location they desire. 

The appellate court found that approving LAICHS precise location, at the cost of major disruptions to Franklin faculty and students, would amount to favoring charter school students.  Proposition 39 does not provide favored status to charter school students; rather, it mandates that facilities “should be shared fairly” among all students.  Therefore, the appellate court found the District complied with the writ and the trial court judgment was affirmed.

What This Means To You

The Court of Appeal confirmed that school districts are not required to locate charter schools as requested.  However, districts are required to use “reasonable efforts” in the decision-making process.  So, school districts should examine the impacts on both district students and charter students when approving or disapproving a Proposition 39 facilities request. 

Questions

If you have any questions concerning the content of this Legal Alert, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

Christian M. Keiner or Meghan Covert Russell | 916.321.4500

 

Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Education Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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