Tuesday, November 15, 2011

BCS Litigation - continued

Tonight in closed session, the Board voted authorize our attorneys to appeal the recent BCS court case to the California Supreme Court.  This was not a simple decision, but in my mind, there were a number of factors that came together to make this the right course of action:
  • We fundamentally disagree with the Court of Appeals ruling, both on the merits and the method on which they arrived at the decision.  "On the merits" is pretty simple- we believe that the court took as "fact" many assertions by BCS that are not complete or correct.  Equally important, the process they followed to evaluate this was incorrect- it placed the interests of the BCS students ahead of LASD students, rather than balancing those interests.  Prop 39 requires a balancing of interests of both groups.
  • The Appeals Court fundamentally said that we can only use a very narrow set of criteria to evaluate how we meet the BCS request- and that set of criteria is actually narrower than what is provided under Prop 39.  The legal language of Prop 39 allows for discretion by the elected Board of Trustees.  The Court of Appeals ruling seems to strip this discretion, which seems contrary to the intent of the voters when they passed Prop 39. 
  • The discretion of elected Boards has been upheld in multiple Appellate rulings throughout California.  That discretion is essential in trying to come to the best possible solution to difficult questions like how to share a fixed set of resources like facilities.  This new ruling seems to fly against those precedents, and could have significant impact on students not only in LASD, but across California.
I recognize that appealing this decision will not be popular with some members of our community.  Certainly BCS supporters will be opposed.  Ironically I argued against them appealing this case in the first place (link).  In this case, though, I can't reconcile myself to what I believe the Appeals Court should have done, and what they ended up doing.  The impacts of this decision are too large to ignore, and I can't let the interests of a subset of students put all other students into a distant second place.

I've already been asked about the 2012-13 Prop 39 process.  We'll still need to figure that out, just like we'll need to continue to move forward with the Long Term location discussions we opened last week.  This litigation will need to run in parallel.  I hope that there is still room for constructive dialogue on these other issues- we will need to continue to communicate our interests to one another if we have any hope of working out solutions we can all support.