In a win for school districts and county offices of education, the Second District Court of Appeal determined that a charter authorizer's compliance with the revocation process prescribed in the Education Code provides a charter school with sufficient due process for the authorizer to revoke a charter. Today's Fresh Start, Inc. v.Los AngelesCounty Office of Ed, (July 12, 2011, B212966, B214470) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ ("Fresh Start"), confirms the position long held by charter authorizers that a charter petition may be revoked after a hearing before the board of the authorizing entity and that a charter school is not entitled to any higher level of due process under the law.
In Fresh Start, the Los Angeles County Board of Education ("CountyBoard") had authorized the charter petition of Today's Fresh Start, Inc. ("CharterSchool"), which operated for several years. After concerns were raised about various aspects of the CharterSchool's operation, including student attendance and standardized testing procedures, theCountyBoardinvestigated and provided theCharterSchoolwith a corrective action plan to address those issues. TheCountyBoardmet on several occasions to discuss the status of the corrective measures and whether to revoke the charter. During these meetings, the county superintendent presented information to the CountyBoardsupporting revocation of the charter, and theCharterSchoolpresented oral testimony and documentary support opposing revocation.
The County Board ultimately scheduled a public hearing on the matter consistent with Education Code section 47607(e). During the hearing, the Charter School presented evidence to support its position and expressed its view that the revocation proceedings violated theCharterSchool's due process rights because theCountyBoard's staff was both advocating for revocation and advising theCountyBoardregarding the revocation proceeding. The Charter School's counsel urged theCountyBoardto have a neutral administrative law judge hear the matter. After hearing all evidence, the CountyBoardopted to revoke the charter.
The court of appeal confirmed that theCountyBoard's actions were appropriate and that theCharterSchoolwas afforded due process because theCharterSchoolwas provided with all of the evidence against it and theCountyBoardonly relied upon such evidence during the revocation proceeding. Additionally, the court held that the CharterSchoolwas not entitled to an additional evidentiary hearing by a neutral third party because theCountyBoardcomplied with the revocation process prescribed by the Education Code and theCharterSchoolcould not show actual bias by the County Board. Moreover, the Education Code provided theCharterSchoolan additional safeguard of appeal to the State Board, which conducts an independent review of the entire record and assesses whether there is substantial evidence to support each ground for the revocation.
Fresh Start confirms the importance of compliance with the legal requirements of the Education Code and its implementing regulations on all matters related to authorizing, renewing or revoking a charter. If you have any questions regarding charter school matters, please contact one of our eight offices
located statewide or consult our website
2011 Lozano Smith