Concerns regarding the CCSA lawsuit and the Proposition 39 Co-location offers

The following email was sent to OUSD’s Directors this afternoon (3/22/16) regarding the California Charter School Association (CCSA) lawsuit and the proposed Prop 39 co-locations at Westlake Middle and other schools across Oakland. You can click here to send your own email today.

We are urging the board to do the following as they consider actions regarding these items:

  1. Keep as the guiding principle of decision-making that which is in the long term best interest of the students in OUSD schools;
  2. Independently determine what is required of this District in response to both the lawsuit and the underlying Proposition 39 requests, and;
  3. Make a decision which is statutorily defined and not based solely on fiscal considerations or on what is easiest in the face of strong-arm tactics by the CCSA.

We encourage you to send your own email to them. We have set up an easy web form for you to use here.

OUSD PARENTS UNITED

Dear Directors,

We are writing to express concerns relating to the lawsuit filed by the California Charter School Association (“CCSA”) against the Oakland Unified School District. In response to the lawsuit, the Proposition 39 offers, which were to be presented to the board at the last board meeting on March 9th, were taken off the agenda to be “retooled” and presented at this week’s meeting. As you move forward on this matter, we urge you to:

  1. Keep as the guiding principle of your decision-making that which is in the long term best interest of the students in the schools over which you have responsibility, specifically OUSD schools;
  2. Independently determine what is required of this District in response to both the lawsuit and the underlying Proposition 39 requests, and;
  3. Make a decision which is statutorily defined and not based solely on fiscal considerations or on what is easiest in the face of these strong-arm tactics by the CCSA.

This Board must consider the impact of its actions on the OUSD schools and students it serves:  We recognize that under current California law charter schools are entitled to request unused space in District facilities and, as empty campuses are in short supply, that may result in co-locations at some campuses. That does not mean, however, that charter schools are entitled to space to the detriment of students in District-run schools, or that entire school communities must be moved to accommodate a Prop 39 request. A California Appellate court affirmed last year that principle: “To put the charter school students’ needs over those of other school district students would not “strike a fair balance” between the needs of the charter school and those of the district-run school.”  Westchester Secondary Charter School v. LAUSD (2015) citing International Charter High School v. LAUSD (2012) The International court went on to state that: “A holding that the District must provide facilities a charter school requests, on demand and without regard to overcrowding or the impact on other public school students, would tip the balance too far in favor of the charter school.” Accordingly, this Board need not bend over backwards to accommodate charter school requests when doing so would not strike the “fair balance” that the court identified. In addition, consolidating District-run schools onto one campus in order to accommodate a privately-run charter school would disrupt the lives of the families whose children attend those District-run schools, discriminating against them and treating them as if they were second-class citizens.

This Board should seek independent counsel regarding this lawsuit:  The CCSA is greatly enmeshed with our District in multiple ways. They hold a place on the Common Enrollment executive committee and possibly the Equity Pledge committee as well. They have, in past election cycles, been the single largest donors to the PAC which funds school board elections. Given this level of entanglement, it is incumbent upon this Board to seek independent counsel on the appropriate resolution of the CCSA lawsuit to ensure that the long term best interests of our district and its students are served..

This Board should not approve “In-lieu” multi-year offers which are not statutorily required and which limit the growth of our District schools, especially as those schools are working hard to improve and attract more students: Prop 39 requires only that a school board make a one-year lease offer in response to requests for facilities, yet year after year this Board approves multi-year “in lieu” offers to charters. This practice unnecessarily restricts a District-run school from attracting more students for the period of the lease as it cannot accommodate more students. A school like Westlake, for instance, which has been working toward becoming an Arts Magnet school, attracting neighborhood students as well as those from throughout the District, would lose the ability to absorb new students if its remaining space is locked into a lease term of more than one year. This Board can do what the law requires without discriminating against District-run schools, by approving lease terms of the statutorily-required one year, rather than granting multi-year leases to charter schools under Proposition 39.

We respectfully remind this board that it is your responsibility to keep the best interests of the OUSD students under your care at the center of what you do, and not to be directed by employees or any outside interests when making such decisions. We ask that you act independently and responsibly and not make short term decisions which will have long lasting negative impact on the students in your OUSD schools.

OUSD Parents United Steering Committee

Tony Daquipa

Kim Davis

Michael-David Sasson

Ann Swinburn

Mona Treviño

REMEMBER: YOU CAN EMAIL THE OUSD BOARD TODAY BY CLICKING HERE!

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