Thursday, June 20, 2013

In Court Today: 2013-14 offer

Today we had a court date to discuss the first of two BCS challenges to the 2013-14 facilities offer.  Today's discussion centered entirely around whether LASD was able to split BCS into two sites, or if that was a violation of the process. 

BCS essentially argued that prop 39 says we have to start by placing them on a single campus, and then restructuring the remaining LASD programs around that.  Judge Pierce also spent time clarifying whether the courts should evaluate all of the options independent of the elected Board of Trustees.  He also explored whether we have a "ministerial duty" or if the trustees have discretion in how we allocate facilities.

LASD's argument was fairly brief.  We pointed to the case law in Ridgecrest that specifically permits districts to split charter schools across campuses under certain circumstances, provided that the district makes written findings supporting that decision.  LASD did this back in January 2013, as part of our extensive evaluation of options for BCS.  LASD attorney Ray Cardozo drew the court's attention to the resolution, which specifically starts with the single site solution (Covington) but then explains how that would have a disproportionate impact on District students- particularly special needs students who are heavily impacted by changes.

Judge Pierce asked some good questions, and it felt like he'd done his homework.  he had a good command of the various sites in the district, and what has happened before this hearing.  He did ask about a possible return to mediation.  Our attorney provided a brief answer.  My thought is that we're willing to engage in a discussion, but it can't be starting with the same old position ("Close an LASD school")  I've said in the past that we would enter into discussions if BCS drops or freezes the litigation we would be willing to meet.  The biggest driver for that is some sort of tangible proof that if we agree to something with the subset, there's reason to believe it will be accepted by the broader BCS Board.  I can expand on this later, but as I said, this is a position I've expressed before.

This was the first time I've seen the new attorney for BCS.  I'm encouraged that he was focused on the facts and law of the case rather than some of the more colorful language that their prior counsel employed.  Given the number of open lawsuits, it is far too early to declare a change in approach.  However, we did manage to get this hearing scheduled within a reasonable time frame, and with a minimum of the shenanigans and delay tactics we've seen in the past.  Hopefully we'll deal with the issues head on.

Judge Pierce didn't issue a tentative ruling before the hearing, so we are all awaiting his decision.  He is repute to be someone who doesn't waste time, though, so hopefully we'll see something soon.

PS to A Friend: Thanks.