Lozano Smith's attorneys are recognized leaders in the state on charter school issues. The firm has been involved in every aspect of charter school law on behalf of education agencies throughout the state, including review of initial and renewal petitions, assisting boards with the denial and appeals process, assisting in all aspects of facilities issues, drafting Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for operational and special education services, assisting staff in oversight of approved charters, and charter revocation. The firm has also assisted school districts and county boards of education to establish and operate dependent charter schools.

Areas of Practice

To ensure the success of its clients, the Charter Schools Practice Group specializes in:

  • Review of petitions to establish charter schools
  • MOUs for operational and special education services
  • Reviewing and assisting districts with renewal and revocation processes
  • Navigate facilities obligations to charter schools

Real World Applications

The firm’s attorneys help school districts and county offices of education navigate the law and manage their relationships with the charter schools that they authorize. Our client authorizers vary, with charter school communities that are small and large. Lozano Smith has advised numerous clients on issues relating to Proposition 39 charter facilities and related funding questions. This has included negotiating facilities agreements and litigating issues regarding use of particular facilities.

Charter School Facilities

The firm has provided counsel and advocacy in every aspect of charter school law on behalf of authorizers throughout the state, including assisting in all aspects of charter school facilities issues and Prop. 39. Lozano Smith has provided advice to many school district clients on issues regarding Proposition 39, charter school facilities, and related legal obligations. This advice has been on issues related to negotiating facilities agreements with charter schools, reviewing and negotiating charter school petitions, as well as litigating issues regarding use of particular facilities. We also counsel large and diverse school districts that are impacted by a high concentration of charter schools.

New Law Allows Former Students To Change Name And Gender On Past Student Records

By:Edward Sklar, Gayle Ketchie -

October 2019Number 48Assembly Bill (AB) 711 establishes a process for former students to change their name and gender on pupil records, including diplomas.Existing law requires school districts to maintain and preserve, in perpetuity, certain mandatory pupil records, even after a student graduates. AB 711 was enacted to address the needs of former students and to protect their privacy rights. Prior to the enactment of this statute, former students' prior legal names (or "dead names") and/or g...

Governor Newsom Signs Comprehensive Reforms for Charter Schools

By:Megan Macy, Erin Hamor, Edward Sklar, Courtney de Groof -

October 2019Number 49In the largest overhaul of California's Charter Schools Act ("Act") since it was enacted in 1992, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1505 and AB 1507 on October 3, 2019. The Act authorizes the establishment and operation of charter schools in California. The closely watched and hotly debated reforms impact most aspects of charter school authorization, including oversight, appeals, and renewals. Enactment of AB 1505 and AB 1507 follows months of negotiations and compromises f...

Governor Signs Charter Transparency Bill

By:Claudia Weaver, Gayle Ketchie -

March 2019Number 15Newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill aimed at increasing charter school transparency. Senate Bill (SB) 126 settles, once and for all, the debate over whether charter schools and their governing bodies are subject to California's open meeting, conflicts of interest, and public records laws.BackgroundPrevious attempts to pass legislation intended to make charter schools subject to California's "sunshine laws" were vetoed by former Governor Jerry Brown. By com...

Sunshine Laws To Begin Shining On Charter Schools: Charter Schools Subject To Public Transparency Laws

By:Edward Sklar, Gayle Ketchie -

January 2019Number 7The California Attorney General recently issued a long-awaited opinion addressing the applicability of certain "sunshine" laws to charter schools. Specifically, the Attorney General concluded that California charter schools and their governing bodies are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act), the California Public Records Act (Public Records Act), Government Code section 1090 and the Political Reform act of 1974. The opinion further states that the books and record...

New Laws on Enrollment Offer Students More Flexibility and Stability and Require Website Posting by January 1, 2019

By:Ruth Mendyk, Nicholas Felahi -

December 2018Number 88Through Assembly Bills (AB) 2826 and 2949, California lawmakers demonstrated a concerted effort to make the interdistrict transfer process more accessible to families, as well as provide additional protections to students of military families, who are often subject to frequent school changes.Assembly Bill 2826 - Pupil Enrollment: Interdistrict Attendance:AB 2826 strives to make the interdistrict transfer process more transparent and timely for families. Under the new law...

New Laws Impacting Media Literacy, Financial Aid Applications and the “A-G” Course List Will Soon Go into Effect

By:Edward Sklar -

December 2018Number 89Governor Jerry Brown recently signed several bills into law that impact student instruction for public schools. Senate Bill (SB) 830 and Assembly Bills (AB) 2015 and 2239 relate to media literacy, instruction regarding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application, and the addition of courses to the "A-G" course list.SB 830 Recognizing the influence of social media and the proliferation of false news stories, SB 830 intends...

New Law Limits School District Collection of Debts from Students and Penalties for Debts

By:Sloan Simmons -

December 2018Number 85The California Legislature recently passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1974, which places new prohibitions and restrictions on the collection of debt owed by parents to public schools, including state special schools and charter schools, and school districts, including county offices of education (all referred to herein as school districts). The new law prohibits the practice of punishing students for the failure of their parents to pay debt owed to the school district, adds addi...

Representative Cases

In New Jerusalem Elementary School District v. Academy of Arts & Sciences Charter School, San Joaquin County Superior Court Case No. STC-cv-UMC-2016-1072, Lozano Smith obtained a $1.5 million settlement on behalf of New Jerusalem School District against a charter schools for recovery of funds allocated to two charter schools previously operated by the charter schools, which become dependent charter schools operated by the District. The settlement was reached after Lozano Smith successfully argued that such funds belonged and should follow the students to which the funding was allocated by the State. The charter school argued that any funds not expended on instruction properly belonged to the nonprofit operating the schools, a practice commonly known as “sweeping” – and which is prevalent in charter management organizations that have ties to for-profit service providers. The $1.5 million settlement represented over 75% of the dollars at issue in the case.
In Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262, the Lozano Smith litigation team successfully argued, in a case of first impression, 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.
CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance (“ELA”) often retains our firm to litigate matters that will have an impact on school districts and county boards of education on a statewide basis. We have been retained by ELA to file amicus briefing in matters where LAUSD was a party, including UTLA v. LAUSD (2012) 54 Cal.4th 504 (regarding whether provisions of California’s Charter Schools Act regarding petition review precludes the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.)
ELA retained Lozano Smith to request that the Court of Appeal publish a significant decision regarding charter school facilities under Prop. 39 (CCSA v. LAUSD (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 689.). The request to publish was successful.
Prevailing in litigation that challenged the Alameda County Board of Education’s decision not to renew a countywide charter school due to significant operational and governance issues.
Advising North Monterey County Unified School District on the oversight and revocation of the charter of a nonclassroom-based charter school that persistently permitted the purchase of religious instructional materials with public funds.
Working with the Board of the Sacramento City Unified School District through the closure of the Visual and Performing Arts Charter School (VAPAC) and negotiations over the disposition of VAPAC’s assets and the resolution of its debts to the District.
Working with Westwood Unified School District to address fiscal and conflict of interest issues at a charter school, and, in lieu of revocation, negotiating a settlement agreement that allowed the charter school to continue operating after taking measures to address the district’s concerns.
Successfully defended a charter school’s challenge in Superior Court to the Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s rights to control use of its facilities.
Assisted a school district in community discussions regarding fiscal and programmatic impacts a new charter school would have on that Basic Aid district.
Provided counsel to numerous school districts through denial of the charter school petition and subsequent appeals to the County and State Boards of Education.
Assisted in the formation of “dependent” charter schools.
Worked with a school district to favorably settle an audit appeal on behalf of a dependent charter school that would have disallowed half of the school’s annual budget. We were able to demonstrate compliance by the District for a significant portion of the independent study attendance accounting requirements that were the subject of the finding.
Successfully defended a charter school’s challenge in Superior Court to a school district’s rights to control use of its facilities.
Successfully prosecuted the revocation of the charter of Gateway Charter School. Successfully defended Fresno Unified School District from $1.8 million in claims from the charter school’s creditors.
Assisted West Park Elementary School District in revoking the charter of Rosalyn Charter School - avoiding any litigation against the district challenging its decision.