Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Litigation Update

It's the summertime, and we'd all like to forget about some of the drama- but I still get questions, so I thought it would be good to share a quick update on the litigation. 

2013-14 Lawsuit
This suit, filed by BCS shortly after the final offer was delivered, raised two challenges to the District's Final Offer of Facilities.  The first part of the challenge asserted that the District could not split BCS across two campuses.  (blog post)  Judge Pierce issued a ruling in favor of the District on the first part just a few days after the hearing.  (ruling for LASD). 

The other part of that lawsuit challenged the District's underlying CEQA study that authorizes the split and provides facilities for BCS at each site.  All CEQA suits are heard by CEQA judges (not the normal Superior Court judges) so we will be in front of yet another judge.  The hearing date for that final part of the 13-14 lawsuit has not yet been set.  We are currently working with BCS on the gathering of documents for the evidence in this effort.   I don't have a court date for this, but the schedules are proscribed by statue, and they're pretty aggressive.  I believe we'll be in court late this summer or early this fall.

"Raynor" Challenge
When the District began exploring the purchase of Raynor in Sunnyvale, we filed a request to the courts for declaratory relief- basically, asking the courts to rule in advance that it is legal for the District to acquire a site outside the District boundaries.  BCS filed a separate lawsuit asking that the District's bid for Raynor be voided by the courts.  Although LASD was not selected by Sunnyvale as the preferred bidder, our request for delcaratory relief is still before the courts because it asks the general question of whether this is legal (vs. the specific question of whether Raynor is legal).  We will have a court date to hear arguments on this issue some time the week of July 22, 2013.  It is my understanding that the Charter School Association has filed an amicus brief in this issue.  (brief)  I'm not surprised by their position -- nor their involvement.  However, it should come as no surprise that I don't agree with what they've said.  We'll see what the courts have to say next week.

2012-13 Lawsuit
When BCS filed their challenge to the 2012-13 facilities allocation, they peeled off key issues to litigate first.  Those issues were all won by LASD back in October 2012.  (court docs, blog post)   There remain a few questions on the BCS case, but I'm not clear on how would those proceed given the fact that the 2012-13 school year is complete.  As a positive step, the 2013-14 case seems to have been moving at a much faster pace, so we shouldn't find ourselves in that position again.

2012-13 Cross Complaint
When the District was approached by community members with concerns about BCS behavior, we filed a cross-complaint asking the court to determine how such actions might impact our duties under prop 39.  For most of last year, BCS tied up that cross-complaint using the anti-SLAPP statute.  (blog post)  With the Appeals court clearing the anti-SLAPP suit, the District is able to move forward with discovery in that lawsuit.

2009-10 Appeal and Attorney's Fees
From the 2009-10 lawsuit, we are still working on the attorney's fee demand from BCS.  The courts sanctioned BCS in November 2013 for refusal to conduct discovery in this case.  (blog post)  BCS appealed these sanctions, but the appeal was denied.  At this point, we've received discovery from the BPEF (Their version of the LAEF), but have not yet completed discovery with BCS itself.  Once that discovery is complete, we will move toward a hearing on the actual fee demand from BCS.  There is not a date set for that yet.

So, the litigation machine moves forward.  I am reminded of some very sage advice I received last year.  "The best way to win a court case is to do the right thing in the first place."  I continue to be encouraged by the consistent rulings from the court for LASD.  I believe it shows that we have been doing the "right thing" throughout this process.  I say that not with any sense of gloating or malice- I simply hope that folks begin to understand that the District is, in fact, acting in accordance with the law.  If we all want a different outcome, we're going to need to find a way to negotiate our way to that outcome.