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 have analyzed numerous petitions submitted to school districts throughout the state and formulated strategy on how to improve the charter petitions to provide better oversight or, alternatively, how to make findings to deny the petition. 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.
Charter Schools Must Obtain Separate Approvals for New Schools, Renewals, and Revisions, Court Rules
March 2018 Number 10 A California appellate court has published a decision affirming that charter schools must obtain separate approvals for new initial petitions, charter renewals, and material revisions to charter school petitions. InToday's Fresh Start Charter School v. Inglewood Unified School District, et al. (Feb. 7, 2018, Case No. B280986) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, the Second District Court of Appeal issued a published decision, concluding that: (1) Charter schools may not use a renewal p...
October 2017 Number 70 A new law aims to ensure equal access for students seeking to enroll in charter schools and to end the practice of dismissing, or "counseling out," charter school students without due process. Assembly Bill (AB) 1360 takes effect on January 1, 2018. The bill gives charter authorizers a new tool for ensuring that charters do not engage in discriminatory admissions practices and provides students more due process during disciplinary proceedings. A description of th...
October 2017 Number 71 Commonly referred to as "Prop. 39," Education Code section 47614 requires that, in certain circumstances, school districts must provide facilities to charter schools. Pursuant to Prop. 39, charter schools must request facilities for the 2018-2019 school year, in writing, by November 1, 2017. Because Prop. 39 triggers certain obligations for a school district, it is best to be prepared for the upcoming facilities request season. A charter school's timely faciliti...
July 2017 Number 41 A California law that bars state agencies from funding travel, and from requiring employees to travel, to states that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - and Attorney General Xavier Becerra's recent expansion of the list of states covered by the ban - have raised questions regarding whether the law applies to cities, counties, school districts and community college districts. While there is no definitive l...
State Board of Education Adopts Waiver Policy for Unlawfully Located Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools
April 2017 Number 15 The State Board of Education (State Board) recently approved Policy No. 17-01 (Policy), which permits the board to issue temporary waivers to nonclassroom-based charter schools operating "resource centers" outside the geographical boundaries of their chartering school district. The State Board's decision comes on the heels of a closely watched charter school decision, Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262 (Ander...
February 2017 Number 9 Under new leadership following the 2016 presidential election, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE) issued a joint "Dear Colleague" letter on February 22, 2017 withdrawing the Obama administration's May 2016 letter and guidance regarding transgender students and sex-based discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq.) and Title IX's regulations. The prior letter and guid...
February 2017 Number 7 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 ...
|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.|
|Presently, Lozano Smith is litigating an appeal out of Shasta County Superior Court, on whether a nonclassroom-based charter school may establish “resource centers” in non-chartering districts in the county of the chartering district.|
|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.|