SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) filed suit today against the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to obtain a court order requiring OUSD to comply with Proposition 39, a California law passed in 2000 that requires school districts to share facilities equitably with all public school students, including charter public school students. Under state law, OUSD must provide school space to charter schools in (1) the area where the charter wants to locate that is (2) reasonably equivalent to the district campuses that other students in that area attend (3) with the classrooms all located at a single site, not spread across multiple locations. In the complaint, CCSA sets forth the many ways that OUSD has failed to comply with Proposition 39 year-after-year, breaking the law and showing disregard for Oakland public school students who are well served by charter schools.
"The illegal Prop. 39 tactics by OUSD create insurmountable barriers and we felt we had no alternative but to take action on behalf of Oakland students and families. CCSA has corresponded extensively with OUSD, putting it on detailed notice of its extensive violations of the law," stated Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. "Over a year ago, OUSD promised to improve Prop. 39 offers to charter schools, yet this year's offers are worse than ever. OUSD's offers violate the law on every front and most don't even come close to meeting the needs of students," emphasized Wallace. "We are fully commited to ensuring that charter students have fair and equal access to classroom space across the state."
OUSD also ignored the clear instructions provided in last April's California Supreme Court opinion in CCSA's Prop. 39 litigation against Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In that case, the court's decision affirmed CCSA's position that the district's methodology was not legal or fair. The decision required LAUSD to make changes to its Prop 39 process in order to ensure that its method of allocating classrooms to charter schools is lawful. The decision is binding on all California school districts, including OUSD.
The underutilization of OUSD school facilities has been well documented by district reports, including in OUSD's Facilities Master Plan (page 45) which indicates it has underutilized and inactive sites. In addition, CCSA conducted an analysis of OUSD's facilities capacity as part of a Bay Area Market Study in May 2015 by comparing California Department of Education (CDE) enrollment data for all OUSD school sites tracked back to the late 1990s to determine the highest enrollment at each of the district sites. That data was then compared to 2014-15 enrollment data to develop an estimate of excess facilities. OUSD facilities are now serving 12,000 less students than they were 20 years ago and yet they fail to make legally sufficient offers to charter schools under Prop 39.
CCSA's complaint cites numerous OUSD violations of Proposition 39 law, including:
- Excessive/Unlawful Multi-site offers: The district made numerous multiple campus split-site offers wherein more than half of the offers extended to schools were split over more than one campus, several over three sites, with one offer split over seven campuses. Operating over several campuses places an undue burden on schools and OUSD's multi-site offers did not comply with law or equity.
- Unlawful Tactics: The district has a long history of pressuring charter schools into dropping out of Prop. 39 and using confusing language that is designed to make charter schools inadvertently waive their Prop. 39 rights. The district is also placing Prop. 39 applicants under artificial time pressure by misleading charter schools to make a definitive decision by March 1 instead of the actual deadline of May 1, and thereby cutting out several important steps in the process designed to help charter schools challenge the district's actions to obtain the facilities they are legally entitled to and that they need.
- No Transparency: The offers have none of the transparency required by Prop. 39 law that was emphasized in last year's California Supreme Court decision in CCSA's LAUSD Prop. 39 lawsuit.
- Location Issues: The district provides no evidence that it made the required reasonable efforts to provide charter schools with facilities near where the charter schools wished to locate.
- OUSD is still unlawfully only looking to leftovers to offer charter schools: Under Prop. 39 law, the district must make reasonably equivalent space (that complies with law) available for charter schools, as opposed to space that OUSD subjectively considers "available" space.
- In Oakland, the average percentage of high school graduates who completed all college preparatory coursework at charter public schools is more than twice as high as it is for traditional district schools. This holds true for all students and for historically disadvantaged student groups.
- The average high school graduation rate at traditional district high schools has not budged from about 50% for the last three years. The average graduation rate at charter schools has increased over time and is now at 72%. Further, the dropout rate at charter schools is half that of the traditional schools.
- Charter high schools achieve the same results for socioeconomically disadvantaged students as for other students. They continue to deliver a higher percentage of college-ready graduates than their traditional school counterparts, regardless of family income.
- Academic achievement at charter middle and high schools is higher than traditional district schools in several areas key to putting students on the path to college.
About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at www.ccsa.org.
Contact: Robin Doran
SOURCE California Charter Schools Association