August 2022 ACCS - Item 2 Public Comment 2Public Comment 2 received for Agenda Item 2 of the August 11, 2022, Advisory Commission on Charter Schools meeting.
To receive an electronic copy of the below communication, contact the Charter Schools Division by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[The following information was provided as a joint letter from the California School Employees Association and the California Teachers Association.]
August 8, 2022
RE: Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) August 2022 Item 2
Appeal of the Denial of a Petition for the Establishment of a Classroom-Based Charter School Pursuant to California Education Code Section 47605(k)(2): Consideration of Evidence to Hear or Summarily Deny the Appeal of Caliber: High School, which was denied by the Vallejo City Unified School District and the Solano County Board of Education
Dear Advisory Commissioners:
On behalf of the California School Employees Association (CSEA), AFL-CIO, and the California Teachers Association (CTA), we are writing respectfully with reference to Item #2 on the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) August 11, 2022 meeting agenda. CSEA and CTA urge the ACCS to recommend that the State Board of Education (SBE) summarily deny Caliber High School’s abuse of discretion appeal for the reasons outlined in the California Department of Education (CDE) staff recommendation.
I. Summary of Facts
A. Vallejo City Unified School District’s Denial of the Caliber High School Petition
Caliber High School submitted a petition to Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) on September 8, 2021. Citing Education Code Section 47605(c)(8), the VCUSD board voted to deny Caliber High School’s petition at a public hearing on December 15, 2021 because the District was in “state receivership” and thus not positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of the proposed charter school.
B. County’s Denial of Caliber High School Petition
On April 13, 2022, the Solano County Board of Education (SCBOE) voted to deny the Caliber High School petition appeal. The county staff affirmed that VCUSD was undisputedly under state receivership and denied the appeal under Education Code Section 47605(c)(8). Additionally, SCBOE staff thoroughly and appropriately analyzed exactly how the establishment of Caliber High School would exacerbate structural deficits for the district using conservative projected enrollment (average daily attendance [ADA]) loss.
II. Legal Standards for Abuse of Discretion
As outlined in our previous correspondence to the ACCS, the State Board of Education may only reverse the VCUSD or SCBOE decisions to deny Caliber High School’s petition upon finding that there was an “abuse of discretion.” The SBE has previously stated that an abuse of discretion constitutes an action by a district or county board that is “arbitrary, capricious, entirely lacking in evidentiary support, unlawful, or procedurally unfair” (California School Boards Association v. State Board of Education  186 Cal. App. 4th 1298, 1313-1314). Minor procedural errors do not rise to meet this high and deferential standard.
Furthermore, the SBE may grant a charter petition on appeal only if it finds that both local educational agencies (LEAs) abused their discretion. In other words, the SBE need not affirm both decisions to uphold one LEA’s decision to deny the petition. See Education Code § 47605(k)(2)(E) (“If the state board hears the appeal, the state board may affirm the determination of the governing board of the school district or the county board of education, or both of those determinations, or may reverse only upon a determination that there was an abuse of discretion.”) (emphasis added). A primary purpose of AB 1505 was to return control over charter school authorizing to local school districts.
III. A district under state receivership satisfies the requirements of Education Code 47605(c)(8).
VCUSD has been under state receivership since 2004. Presently, VCUSD is one of only four districts in the State of California under receivership. Under Education Code Section 47605(c)(8), a school district that is not positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of a proposed charter school due to being under state receivership may deny a petition for the establishment of a charter school based on that status alone. The operative language in Education Code Section 47605(c)(8) was enacted through AB 1505 to specifically allow VCUSD and the other districts in state receivership to reject new charter petitions because of their fiscal situation. Both VCUSD and SCBOE properly denied Caliber High School’s petition citing Education Code Section 47605(c)(8).
The petitioners have presented no evidence to dispute VCUSD’s outstanding loan or status as being under state receivership. Instead, they argue that their denial was not supported by findings specific to Caliber’s petition and ignored Caliber’s rebuttal evidence. Because the law states that the petition shall be subject to a rebuttable presumption of denial, the petitioners must present evidence to rebut VCUSD’s status as being under state receivership. They have not done so. Rather, the petitioners argue that despite being under state receivership, VCUSD can absorb the fiscal impact of Caliber High School. Education Code 47604(c)(8) clearly states that the condition of being under state receivership, in and of itself, is enough to satisfy a finding that the district is not positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of the proposed charter.
VCUSD and SCBOE did not abuse their discretion by rightfully voting to deny the Caliber High School petition. The agencies submitted conclusive and indisputable evidence that VCUSD is under state receivership and not positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of the proposed charter school.
We, therefore, urge the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools to recommend that the State Board of Education summarily deny the Caliber High School petition appeal. If you have any questions regarding our position, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.