Edward J. Sklar is the Managing Partner of Lozano Smith's Walnut Creek office. Mr. Sklar advises school districts on managing California's charter school landscape, serving as co-chair of the firm's Charter School Practice Group. He is an authority on all aspects of a public school district's obligations to comply with California's Charter Schools Act, including charter oversight, facilities, petition review and revocation. Mr. Sklar also provides guidance to school districts that want to establish their own "dependent" charter schools.
Mr. Sklar also advises school districts on all legal issues that arise in the routine course of educating students. This includes matters of student discipline, residency, student records, civil rights, and compliance with state and federal education reform measures. He has extensive experience advising clients on compliance with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act.
Mr. Sklar has provided training and conducted seminars on a number of topics for multiple organizations. They include the California School Boards Association (CSBA), National School Boards Association (NSBA), Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) annual conference, CASH Leadership Academy, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) annual conference, ACSA Superintendent Symposium, and California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA) conference.
Prior to joining Lozano Smith, Mr. Sklar practiced civil litigation at Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard, LLP, and Cesari, Werner & Moriarty, both in San Francisco. The fast-paced practice of litigation provided the training ground for his vast experience in settlement negotiations and his advocacy skills in courtrooms and administrative hearings.
Mr. Sklar received his J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law and his B.A. from Rutgers University.
A California Court of Appeal has held that a county board of education may not grant exemptions from zoning ordinances under Government Code section 53094. ( San Jose Unified School District v. Santa Clara County Office of Education (Jan 24, 2017, No. H041088) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ < http://www.courts. ca.gov/opinions/documents/H041088.PDF >.) Specifically, county boards may not exempt the charter schools they authorize from zoning ordinances. School districts ...
The Third District Court of Appeal’s decision in Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262 (Anderson) is now binding law in California. Following successful legal argument by Lozano Smith, the court, on October 17, 2016, confirmed that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Act) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs. On January 18, ...
In a case watched closely by the charter school community - including school districts, county offices of education and charter operators - California's Third District Court of Appeal has issued an opinion which holds that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including "nonclassroom-based" programs. (Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (O...
On September 30, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill (AB) 709, which would have expressly required California charter schools to comply with the same transparency and conflict of interest requirements as traditional public school districts.
With recent reports of mismanagement by charter school governing boards across the state, there is constant discussion as to which conflict of interest and transparency laws apply to charter schools. AB 709 specifically...
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) issued a joint "Dear Colleague" letter on June 15, 2016 providing "significant guidance" on how to ensure gender equality in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
The guidance was prompted by data indicating persistent underrepresentation of men and women in fields considered "non-traditional" for their gender (i.e., underrepresentation of...
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law several Assembly Bills and Senate Bills impacting school district campuses. These bills are summarized below.
Senate Bill 359: the California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015
By January 1, 2016, school districts must adopt a fair, objective and transparent mathematics placement policy for students entering the 9th grade. Senate Bill (SB) 359 was drafted in response to research by the Noyce Foundation which reve...
Commonly referred to as "Prop. 39", Education Code section 47614 requires that school districts provide facilities to charter schools. Charter schools must request facilities for the 2016-2017 school year, in writing, by November 1, 2015. Because Prop 39 triggers certain obligations for a school district, it is best to be prepared for the upcoming facilities request season.
Once a school district receives a facilities request from a charter school, the following ...
In Westchester Secondary Charter School v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al., (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 1226 (Westchester), the court of appeal affirmed that when a charter school makes a facilities request under Proposition 39, the charter school is not entitled to a specific location of its choosing. Instead, a school district need only make reasonable efforts to place a charter school near the charter school's desired location. This was a closely watched ...
The California Supreme Court has weighed in on Proposition 39, the law that requires school districts to provide facilities to charter schools.
In California Charter Schools Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District (April 9, 2015) S208611, the California Charter School's Association (CCSA) filed suit against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), alleging that the use of "norming ratios" to calculate classroom allocations to charter schools in r...
The California State Board of Education (SBE) recently voted to suspend the state's school accountability system, the Academic Performance Index (API), for the 2014-2015 school year. Implemented over 15 years ago, the API measures the academic performance and growth of schools using student scores on statewide tests. The decision to suspend the API gives the SBE time to develop a new school accountability system that evaluates student growth using multiple measures. T...
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For some parents, volunteering at their child's school is a luxury they cannot afford. At many charter schools, however, it has been alleged that volunteering is required of families, and some families feel forced to perform service or risk penalties such as disenrollment. According to a recent advisory by the California Department of Education ("CDE"), these practices should end.
The CDE's advisory seems to have been issued in response to a recent study by Public Adv...
Commonly referred to as "Prop. 39", Education Code section 47614 requires that school districts provide facilities to charter schools. Charter schools must request facilities for the 2015-2016 school year, in writing, by November 1, 2014. In certain circumstances, even proposed charter schools may request facilities.
Once a school district receives a facilities request from a charter school, the following deadlines are triggered:
December 1 - Deadline for a sc...
A federal appeals court has held that a California school district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) by failing to provide equal athletic opportunities for female athletes and retaliating against the female athletes by firing the softball coach, among other actions. This case is significant because it provides specific guidance on a school district's obligation to provide equal athletic opportunities under Title IX.
In Ollier v. Swe...
Recently, both the California Department of Education (CDE) and the federal government have reminded school districts of their obligation to serve every child, including immigrant children. This aligns with the 1982 United States Supreme Court decision in Plyer v. Doe, in which the Court held that undocumented students have a constitutional right to a free K-12 public education.
The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education recently issued a l...
Several charter schools have recently succeeded in convincing courts to intervene in the charter renewal and revocation process despite the fact that these charter schools have not exhausted their administrative appeals through county boards of education and the State Board of Education before seeking such court action. This trend could severely hamper a school district's ability to oversee and revoke charter petitions when necessary.
For example, as reported in C...
The laws regarding independent study, which are already complex, have been amended. These amendments have come through the recently passed education trailer bill, so many, but not all, go into effect immediately. Other amendments will become effective for the 2015-2016 school year.
Some of the immediate changes are to rules regarding calculation of maximum student-to-teacher ratios, allowing districts to collectively bargain alternative student-to-teacher ratios...
The California School Immunization Law (Health and Safety Code, sections 120325-120375) requires that children receive vaccinations against certain illnesses in order to enroll in school. However, the law allows parents to opt out of the vaccination requirement by filing a letter or affidavit indicating that immunizations are contrary to their personal beliefs. This "personal belief" exemption was modified in 2014.
Effective January 1, 2014, parents claiming a per...
In a decision favorable to charter school proponents, a California court of appeal has upheld a preliminary injunction that kept three charter schools open and funded during the appeal of the revocation of their charter petitions. In a high profile dispute, Oakland Unified School District revoked the charters of American Indian Model Schools' (AIMS) three charter schools for fiscal mismanagement, improper use of public funds, and conflict of interest violations. Leadin...
With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (Common Core), the California Legislature has begun revising the way students take the standardized testing that measures California school districts' academic achievement. The new program, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), will permanently replace the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) testing in the 2014-2015 school year. The new assessments, the Measurement of Acade...
Commonly referred to as Prop. 39, Education Code section 47614 requires that school districts provide facilities to charter schools. Charter schools must request facilities for the 2014-2015 school year, in writing, by Friday, November 1, 2013. Even proposed charter schools can request facilities if they submit a timely request and have their charter approved by March 15, 2014.
Once a school district receives a facilities request from a charter school, the follo...
Governor Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 570, which expands the parameters of continuation education in California. Continuation education is a high school diploma program designed to meet the needs of students ages 16 through 18, who have not graduated from high school, and are at risk of not graduating from high school. Students enrolled in continuation schools are often credit deficient or need a flexible school schedule due to employment, famil...
The California Supreme Court recently held that California's statutory revocation procedures for charter schools are constitutional and provide sufficient due process. In Today's Fresh Start Inc. v. Los Angeles County Office of Education (July 11, 2013) __ Cal.4th __ 2013 WL 3467070, the court clarified that its decision was specific to revocation procedures involving countywide charter schools. However, the decision supports the premise that the Education Code's rev...
In Scott B. v. Board of Trustees of Orange County High School of Arts (June 14, 2013) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ 2013 WL 2687979, the court of appeal upheld the "dismissal" of a charter school student without an evidentiary hearing or written findings. The court determined that the charter school, as a school of choice not bound by California Education Code section 48918, was allowed to "dismiss" a student. In its decision, the court distinguished between "dismissal" and "exp...
For the first time, a California Court of Appeal has provided guidance on how to determine the number of classrooms school districts must provide charter schools under Proposition 39 ("Prop. 39"). Under a recently issued opinion, school districts may look at their own student-to-classroom ratios, rather than looking at their gross inventory of classrooms, when determining the allocation of classrooms to a charter school. On January 4, 2013, the court certified its de...
Charter schools offer advantages to school districts by providing parents a wider choice of educational placements for their children. Many times, however, school districts wind up subsidizing a charter school's operations. Below are four common pitfalls for school districts to avoid when a charter school comes to town:
Providing and maintaining charter school facilities. Sometimes the school district is required, by law, to provide facilities (e.g. Prop. 39); som...
Commonly referred to as Prop. 39, Education Code section 47614 requires that school districts provide facilities to charter schools. Charter schools must request facilities for the 2013-2014 school year, in writing, by Thursday, November 1, 2012. Even proposed charter schools can request facilities if they submit their request by November 1, 2012 and have their charter approved by March 15, 2013.
Once a school district receives a facilities request from a charter...
The California Supreme Court, in United Teachers of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles Unified School District (June 28, 2012) __ Cal.4th __ (2012 WL 2428928), has ruled that a petition to compel arbitration should be denied if the collective bargaining provisions at issue directly conflict with provisions of the Education Code. While the disputed provisions in this case concerned charter schools, the decision provides welcome clarification about the general scope of an arbitr...
The State Board of Education (SBE) recently approved implementing regulations for Education Code section 47607, effective December 16, 2011, setting forth a detailed process for school districts and county offices of education authorizing charter schools ("Authorities") to follow when revoking a charter. Additionally, the regulations set forth an expedited process when there is a severe and imminent threat to the health or safety of pupils and detail the appeal pro...
The State Board of Education (SBE) has adopted new regulations which add substantial detail to the procedure for renewing charter school petitions. These new regulations - which include a procedure for the automatic renewal of charters - took effect on November 23, 2011. The more noteworthy of the new regulations are reviewed below.
Automatic Renewal of Charters
The newly-adopted regulations allow for the automatic renewal of a charter school petition, if a s...
A California appellate court has issued a far-reaching decision regarding a school district's obligation to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to a charter school under Proposition 39 (Ed. Code § 47614; "Prop 39"). Prop 39, enacted as a voter initiative in 2000, requires school districts to share their facilities with charter schools, and requires that the facilities offered by a district be reasonably equivalent to the district's facilities.
In Bullis ...
Recent Developments In Charter School Law...