Monday, June 22, 2015
Court of Appeal Upholds School District’s Decision to Offer Crenshaw Facilities to Charter School
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Unified School District did not violate the state’s charter school law by offering school facilities at Crenshaw High School, rather than in Westchester as it had requested, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled Friday.
Proposition 39, enacted in 1992, requires a school district to make its facilities reasonably available to charter schools, but not necessarily to grant such schools the spaces they desire, Justice Madeleine Flier explained for Div. Eight. LAUSD, she said, complied with the initiative by offering to place Westchester Secondary Charter School at Crenshaw, less than three miles from the perimeter of the Westchester community, she said.
The ruling affirms Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell, who held that the offer of classrooms and administrative space at Crenshaw was not unreasonable. O’Donnell noted that Crenshaw is less than 10 miles from both Wright Middle School and Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet, either of which the charter school said it would accept.
Those distances are insignificant, she said, given that the district is more than 700 square miles in area. O’Donnell did, however, grant the charter school relief on its claim that the district offered an inadequate amount of space.
The latter portion of the ruling was not appealed.
Flier, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the district complied with Proposition 39 by making reasonable efforts to place the charter school.
She noted that when the school made the request, it was operating at a Westchester church, and asked for facilities in or “reasonably close” to Westchester.
The justice cited “undisputed evidence that the Crenshaw campus is only 2.53 miles from the perimeter of Westchester” and said she was not persuaded by the school’s argument that “it is the distance to the requested campuses that is relevant, not the distance to the border of Westchester.”
“Insofar as WSCS expressed a preference for something in Westchester or reasonably close to Westchester, the distance to Westchester in general is certainly relevant.”
She went on to say that the district was within its rights in determining to place a pilot program of its own, called “Incubator,” at the Westchester magnet school rather than give that space to the charter school, or offer to have Incubator and the charter school share the space.
The magnet was a reasonable choice for Incubator’s location, Flier said, because it was close to Playa Vista Elementary School, which had housed Incubator before it ran out of space. She rejected as illogical the charter school’s argument that since Incubator had to be moved anyway, it would not be disruptive to move it elsewhere and allow the charter school to move into the magnet.
Nor was a sharing arrangement feasible, Flier said, citing testimony that it would present “significant safety, educational, scheduling, facilities and operational challenges.”
The case is Westchester Secondary Charter School v. Los Angeles Unified School District, 15 S.O.S. 3120.
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