L.A. District, Charter Groups Settle Facilities Lawsuit
The Los Angeles school board approved Tues. Feb. 12 the settlement of a lawsuit over charter school facilities that is expected to smooth the way for the independently run but publicly funded schools to find space in the district.
The proposed settlement would end two lawsuits brought by the California Charter Schools Association and two charter-management organizations operating in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They are Green Dot Public Schools and Partnerships to Uplift Communities.
In their lawsuits, filed last May, the groups argued that charters’ access to facilities in California is granted by Proposition 39, a state ballot measure passed by voters in 2000. The law mandates that districts share public school facilities fairly among all public school students, including those attending charter schools.
The charter operators said the 708,000-student district had either denied or made unreasonable offers to 57 of the 59 requests for facilities made by charter schools over a two-year period. The proposed settlement, which must be approved by the parents who were parties to the suits and by the boards of the charter organizations involved, says that every charter school that applies to the district for facilities would receive an offer of space at a district site.
Finding adequate space for such schools has been a major issue for charter operators nationwide. ("Help for Charters in Race for Space," Feb. 13, 2008.)
The proposed agreement in Los Angeles comes at a key time for the district. With some 128 charter schools in operation, it is already home to more charter schools than any other school district in the country.
Last month, the foundation of philanthropist and businessman Eli Broad donated $23.3 million to help three groups—the Knowledge Is Power Program, Aspire Public Schools, and Pacific Charter School Development Inc.—start 17 more charter schools in the district.