Charter schools that petition for classrooms in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be awarded the same number of spaces per room that the district uses.
An appellate court ruling Dec. 6 gave LAUSD a victory in what has become a contentious topic of discussion among parents, LAUSD administrators and parents since charter operators began petitioning for classroom space under Proposition 39.
For example, if 30 pupils are placed in an LAUSD school classroom, charter schools will be allotted rooms at a traditional school that will be calculated by the same ratio.
Prop. 39, a 2000 voter approved ballot measure, provides charter operators with the opportunity to have space on traditional school campuses where classrooms are underutilized or vacant. School districts tender offers to charters at schools where these classrooms exist and charters then determine to accept or deny them.
The appellate ruling strikes down a July decision that paved the way for charter operators to have what many called “equitable access” to traditional school campuses.
In that decision, a Superior Court judge ruled against LAUSD on a complaint brought by the California Charter Schools Association. The association argued that LAUSD had not complied with Prop. 39’s guidelines.
“LAUSD’s use of ‘norming ratios’ to determine whether the number of classrooms to provide charter schools in LAUSD’s Prop. 39 facilities violated Section 11969.3(b) (1) of the Prop. 39 Implementing Regulations, and LAUSD thus failed to provide facilities to charter schools in the same ratio of teaching stations as those provided to students in the school district attending comparison groups,” wrote Judge Terry Green.
Green’s July 19 order mandated LAUSD to restructure the formula that is used when offering charter schools space at traditional school campuses.
In their appellate brief, the association argued that charters should have more space because the school district uses rooms that often double as parent centers and intervention rooms and are not always in use.
Colocations are taking place on several Westside campuses. A colocation is a situation where charter school students share space and facilities on a traditional school campus.
For the last two years, the Westside has had more of these shared situations than any other part of the city.
LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer, who represents schools including Venice, Westchester, Mar Vista and Del Rey in District 4, said the ruling was the right decision for broader and more important reasons other than giving traditional school children more of a level playing field with charters.
“(The court) played its proper role ensuring that there is equality for all public school students under the 14th Amendment as well as under Brown vs. the Board of Education,” said Zimmer. “The court ruled sensibly and justly.”
David Huff, an attorney who represents LAUSD on charter matters, told The Argonaut in July that the school district would be appealing the verdict because it puts district students at a great disadvantage.
“This order heavily favors charter students and gives them far in excess of what (charter schools) need and what their students would receive if they attended (LAUSD) schools,” he asserted.
The school district and the charter association have been at loggerheads for years regarding Prop 39 and how it should be implemented.
Zimmer said he would like to see the rift between the association and the school district come to an end.
“I hope that this puts an end to a contentious chapter with the charter school association,” he said.
The state charter association did not respond to inquiries on the ruling. There is no mention of the appellate ruling on its website.