Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Charter school students are public school students who attend a unique charter school by choice. Sometimes school districts responsible for charter schools authorized in their district try to place charter students in shabby surroundings. Bullis Charter School vs. Los Altos School District changed this practice, vindicating the rights of charter school students to equal facilities (buildings, grounds, etc.).
Charter School Law Interpreted
The Bullis Court analyzed legal requirements that charter schools be provided with reasonably equivalent facilities. The Court determined how the evaluation of “reasonably equivalent facilities” should be made.
The Sixth Appellate District determined that when charter school buildings and grounds are evaluated to see if they have “reasonably equivalent facilities,” comparisons must be made to other schools in the same school district.
Bullis Ensured Reasonably Equivalent Facilities for Charters
Bullis was an important decision for California parents and students. It ensured that charter students are not stuck in tiny degraded school buildings, and they have equivalent space for physical education and other normal school activities.
After this decision, charter schools students will have adequate space for sports, child care, and student activities. Bullis basically confirmed that charter school grounds and buildings should be as good as other local traditional public schools in the area.
The Bullis Outcome
In Bullis, the California Court of Appeals for the Sixth District granted Bullis Charter School’s request for a court order to the Los Altos School District. Essentially, the holding of the court was that Los Altos provide a “complete and fair facilities offer to Bullis from which it could be determined that ‘reasonably equivalent’ facilities were provided”
The District’s Mistakes
Prior to the lawsuit in Bullis was files, Los Altos School District had provided an offer of what they thought were “reasonably equivalent facilities” to Bullis Charter School.
The offer was lacking in the following ways (among others):
1) It selected the wrong schools to compare,
2) Did not compare total site size,
3) Did not consider three categories of space: teaching, non-teaching and specialized space in its calculations,
4) Contained flawed and/or missing information on size andsquare footage.
The district’s proposal basically compared apples to peanuts.
The offer also used flawed financial figures and percentages to make it appear that Bullis Charter School was getting an equivalent space, when they were not. In fact, in the school facilities proposal, the charter school had been required to share outdoor space, had no classroom for its seventh grader students, and did not have child care space allotted, among other things.
Victory for All California Charter Schools
The Bullis decision was a student victory. It helped charter school students across California, who may have previously been stuck in facilities which were cruddy. Charter students should not be stuck in terrible classrooms just because they attend a charter school.
All students in California benefit, due to increased choices for receiving a proper education.
Michelle Ball is a student lawyer and advocate for charter, public and private school students. She acts as an attorney across California from her Sacramento office, in towns such as Redding, Woodland, Fairfield, Stockton, and many others.
Suggested additional reading: Minimum Requirements For Charter School Expulsions To Be Legal