From: Dave Cortright <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Grace Mah <email@example.com>; many members of the LASD community
Cc: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>; "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>; "LeonBeauchman@att.net" <LeonBeauchman@att.net>; Michael Chang <firstname.lastname@example.org>; "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Julia HOVER-SMOOT <email@example.com>; Craig Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Anna Song <email@example.com>; "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>; 'Carmen Aminzadeh' <Carmen_Aminzadeh@sccoe.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 6:50 AM
Subject: Re: Response to Community Emails on SCCOE and BCS
Dear Board Member Mah,
I very much appreciate you taking the time to respond to the community on this very important issue. And I appreciate the opportunity to turn this into a dialog. As such, I have thoughts on a few of the points your raised in your email below.
Of most importance I must respond to your assertion that "SCCOE has no jurisdiction on the BCS facilities issues and Prop 39 responsibility... Whether their educational model requires one physical site or whether they may run their school on two parcels is something educators would be better answering than courts, in my opinion." I want to make one thing absolute clear here: SCCOE was an active participant in causing the current conflict over facilities. As such, it is your duty to proactively assist in the resolution of this conflict. Last fall, your board approved BCS' charter petition with an integrated K-8 curriculum in a school district that does not operate in this grade level configuration, and thus has no facilities to support a K-8 configuration. To now throw your hands up and say "This is not our problem" is not even close to acceptable. Even if you are not technically or legally required to do so, it is your moral duty to do so.
If you believed in an integrated K-8 program enough last fall to approve it, and if BCS is saying that they require an integrated site, why then are you not helping them get one? Why aren't you offering up county facilities to house their school on a single site? Why did you approve a charter who's curriculum requires a special facilities configuration for successful implementation, yet now will not assist them in obtaining such facilities? By doing so, it appears that you're really not that interested in seeing BCS successfully implement the curriculum that SCCOE approved last fall.
Regarding the geographic preference, you say "Only the charter school may submit material revisions to the charter." Perhaps this is true, but on this point BCS is standing in defiance of the wishes of SCCOE (their chartering authority), the community in which they operate, the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment of the US Constitution, and Article I §7(a) of the CA Constitution which requires "maximizing the educational opportunities... of all public school pupils". Can you really do nothing to affect the outcome here? What sort of relationship do you have with your thrice-approved charter school that you cannot influence them to do the right thing here? It is situations like this that makes SCCOE look powerless and ineffective in charter school oversight.
Finally you talk about what factors might lead you to deny a charter. One that you list is "(5) The petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all of the [required charter elements]." In my reading of the charter law, section §47601 is a required element. Can you show me where in the Bullis charter petition there is a comprehensive description of how they intend to place special emphasis on academically low-achieving pupils as required by §47601(b)? I have searched through that document several times (and their web site. and yours.) and I can see no such description.
To: many members of the LASD community
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; LeonBeauchman@att.net; Michael Chang <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com; Julia HOVER-SMOOT <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Craig Mann <email@example.com>; Anna Song <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com; 'Carmen Aminzadeh' <Carmen_Aminzadeh@sccoe.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:27 AM
Subject: Response to Community Emails on SCCOE and BCS
Dear Los Altos and Los Altos Hills Concerned Parents and Community Members,
I wanted to take this chance to respond to the outpouring of emails concerning Bullis Charter School (BCS) and the role of the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBoE) in working with the community stakeholders involved.
This is my personal response to the number of questions and issues which have been brought up and does not represent the sentiment of other members of the board. I hope to clarify a number of misunderstandings about the BoE’s responsibilities over charter schools and BCS. I recognize that a large number of parents and community members are upset, mad, frustrated, and otherwise unhappy. I do not believe that this is manufactured or a wholly Los Altos matter to be resolved only by the local warring parties.
As the authorizing agency for BCS, based on upholding an appeal to the LASD denial of the charter, the SCCBoE has tangible responsibilities which include the issues that have been brought up in the general template letter:
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) and BCS. This document will be sunshined for 30 days before the SCCBoE votes on it, as the BoE promised to the LASD community.
The appointment of a neutral party to the BCS Board. The SCCBoE discussed this appointment at great length on April 18. Different SCCBoE members have varying opinions on the necessity of this appointment, the role and responsibilities of an appointment, and the efficacy of an appointment.
I feel that an appointment is necessary given the local community’s demand for a SCCBoE neutral selection who will represent the SCCBoE on the BCS board. Although this person will be a single vote on the BCS board, by facilitating communication of the SCCBoE’s goals and objectives (for me, a well-functioning charter within a non-combative community), and having input on BCS policies and processes, the SCCBoE representative would bring some balance of Los Altos’ whole community interests to the BCS board.
A number of my colleagues are not supportive of appointing a representative to BCS board, and I will work hard to convince them that this person is necessary and will be a contributing member to working with BCS, SCCBoE, and the LASD community.
Geographic preference for the Bullis Purissima area for BCS enrollment priority has always been an issue for me personally, and I have been consistent in my opposition to it. In the past, I have requested the preference to be changed to include a part of town north of El Camino, both to the SCCBoE and BCS board members. However, in both cases, my proposal was not supported. This item has been discussed within the Bullis MOU discussions, and I do not know if there will be a resolution.
Unfortunately, our SCCOE Board Policy 0420.41(a) is incorrect. Our superintendent may not submit material revisions to the charter. I received clarification from the Superintendent on that and will recommend that our Policy Development Committee strike the phrase “or the County Superintendent” from the policy. Only the charter school may submit material revisions to the charter.
Accountability for BCS’ application and donation processes have been exercised, and will continue. BCS has been informed that their current application process has unnecessary and excessive restrictions. I trust they will modify as appropriate. Likewise, their donation solicitations have changed based on SCCOE feedback to BCS and their foundation.
As has been acknowledged, the SCCOE has no jurisdiction on the BCS facilities issues and Prop 39 responsibility. The LASD board is the only entity which must offer BCS facilities. I appreciate that LASD’s latest proposal is wholly owned by its board and BCS must respond by May 1. I hope that BCS will find a compromise, but it may end up as another legal battle. Whether their educational modelrequires one physical site or whether they may run their school on two parcels is something educators would be better answering than courts, in my opinion.
For reference, the SCCOE has a number of FAQs which describe the role and responsibilities of the SCCBoE with respect to approving charters on appeal, such as BCS.
One detail about charter approval that is not well-understood is described by question 14, copied below from the following website: (emphasis my own)
A: EC 47605 (b) states that “a school district governing board shall grant a charter for the operation of a school under this part if it is satisfied that granting the charter is consistent with sound educational practice. The governing board of the school district shall not deny a petition for the establishment of a charter school unless it makes written factual findings, specific to the particular petition, setting forth specific facts to support one, or more, of the following findings:
- The charter school presents an unsound educational program for the pupils to be enrolled in the charter school.
- The petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition.
- The petition does not contain the number of signatures required by subdivision (a)
- The petition does not contain an affirmation of each of the conditions described in subdivision (d).
- The petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all of the [required charter elements].”
In the case of all charters, the law states that the authorizing agency shall grant a charter (not “may” grant) … if it is satisfied, and shall not deny (not “may not” deny), unless some specific failings are found.
The charter law also encourages the creation of charters as choices for all parents, not just disadvantaged ones.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the SCCBoE’s actions with respect to the BCS and LASD conflicts. We are certainly involved and this certainly needs to be resolved.
Santa Clara County School Board Member
Trustee Area 1, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto