LAUSD will be forced to pay $7.1 million to a charter school operator after losing a recent arbitration according to the LA Times. Meanwhile, OUSD is embroiled its own suit over the same types of alleged violations and given the facts, its case is not looking good.
Years ago the voters approved Proposition 39 which said that public charter school students had the right to “reasonably equivalent” facilities. Charter kids are public school kids, their parents pay taxes, and particularly in a place like Oakland, with a lot of underutilized school sites, it defies logic that private landlords should benefit, while kids lose. This is exactly what the arbitrator looked at in the LA case,
In his written ruling, arbitrator John Zebrowski said that the district’s failure to comply with the law harmed children attending the charter during those years because it forced the school to use some money intended for educational programs to lease a building. Zebrowski said students were further harmed because the building leased by the charter was inferior to what it would have received from L.A. Unified.
We covered, the initial filing of the lawsuit against OUSD in a prior post. And if you didn’t read it, in one case, the district offered a charter school seven different non-contiguous sites. So the first grade in one building, gym at another school, fourth grade at another, etc., for seven sites. This is an offer you can’t accept.
I haven’t really studied the legal standards here or every OUSD site, but I am pretty sure that is not “reasonably equivalent” to any district school.
This need not be the battle it is becoming, and nobody will benefit from a protracted struggle. Charters need to solidify their sites, and if they don’t, it seems like a broke district will then be on the hook for damages to the schools (the rent paid) and attorney’s fees which, were 650K in the LAUSD case.
This threatens to turn into one more, “elephants fighting while grass gets trampled story” and it need not be. OUSD has extensive underutilized space, charters are wasting money on private rents in subpar spaces, and could also contribute to site upkeep.
There is deal to be made here, and the ultimate beneficiaries would be public school children. Let’s hope the adults can put their interests first.