Good News for Oakland; Facilities Lawsuit May Settle

Veering away from a dangerous cliff, Oakland Unified and the State Charter School Association agreed to “stay” or pause the lawsuit over access to facilities.  We covered this issue earlier, but the short of the matter is that OUSD was likely going to lose a multi million dollar lawsuit over access to facilities, and this agreement to stay the suit, may avoid both an ongoing fight and save the district a stack of cash.

Proposition 39 and “reasonably equivalent” facilities for charters

When the voters approved proposition 39, part of that law, recognized that charter school students are public school students and it created a right for charter schools to “reasonably equivalent” facilities in the district.  Basically districts have to offer charter schools equal types of space in public buildings.

Oakland has historically not done this.  In the last round of offers one school’s “reasonably equivalent” offer was actually spread out across 7 different sites.  That is no way to run a school, and likely would not survive a court’s scrutiny.  And LAUSD learned the hard way that the courts are watching, losing a $7 million lawsuit recently.

Getting to Yes on Buildings

I am heartened that the State Charter Association and the District are negotiating this, and pausing the litigation.  I really do think that most of these issues can be solved through negotiation.  Many district buildings are underutilized, and the district also has other properties that charters might develop under long term leases.  And other charters are happy in their own private buildings—which the District should encourage, and support.

Sharing buildings is not necessarily easy but it really can be beneficial for the district.  Half empty buildings have a financial cost to the district, when charters help fill them, they often pay the union custodial and grounds staff, and also contribute a maintenance cost for the space.  So financially, having more full buildings helps the district financially.

Let’s keep talking, negotiating longer term deals before the Prop 39 deadlines even kick in—so its not this annual struggle to site dozens of schools, and really working with schools to understand their needs and help meet them.

The kids and families at charters are basically the same kids and families in OUSD, and there is a lot of overlap.  It does not make sense that charters sometimes spend over $1000 per child annually for private rents while district buildings sit half full.  That rent money could go to teachers or services, but instead goes to landlords.

Getting to yes on facilities is good for children, families, the district, and taxpayers.  Let’s keep the progress moving.

If you want to read the press release you can see it here

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Good News for Oakland; Facilities Lawsuit May Settle

  1. Charter schools are not public schools. You wrote “When the voters approved proposition 39, part of that law, recognized that charter school students are public school students”…” If the law did “recognize” this it won’t be the first time the law was in error. Charter schools are not controlled by the public. Therefore they are not public institutions. They are publicly funded private schools.

  2. You may disagree with the law, but that is the will of the voters, and the law is pretty explicit about the “public school” nature of charters, folks should talk to their representatives if they want to change that

    1. Unfortunately many political decisions are influenced by money from rich contributors. You already know that,The charter issue is no exception. In the case of charters the wealthy also influence what the public thinks by contributing to candidates who support charters, making it possible for them to barrage citizens with election material supporting publicly funded private schools (charters). Many people have no idea that in the long run charters diminish choice by stealing money from public schools, thereby causing public schools to provide poorer services. If you are truly interested in improving education for all then focus on publicly funded and publicly controlled schools.

      1. I just disagree, I dont think the voters are a bunch of dupes, every law is influenced by interest groups– so they are all not valid?– that’s democracy in the US and CA, you can work to change it.. The “public schools” were segregated. And we started the first school for kids with mental health challenges that was college prep– John W Lavelle Prep– the traditional public schools wouldnt do this and didnt want to, we are graduating our first class this year. Some traditional public schools do a great job some dont same with charters. But show me a district where the traditional public schools graduate African American kids at the same rate as White kids– that’s the system. And we cant wait for it to change.

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