Efforts to open a new charter school in Mountain View are expected to end unceremoniously next month, as school district officials seek to revoke Bullis Mountain View's charter petition and dissolve the school before it ever enrolled any students.
Mountain View Whisman School District leaders announced their intent to disband Bullis Mountain View (BMV) last month, citing numerous violations of the school's charter and claiming it ran afoul with requirements imposed by the district. School board members voted Thursday, May 16, on a revocation process that could eliminate the charter school on June 14.
BMV representatives did not make any efforts to remedy the violations since the announcement on April 1, according to district officials, despite a May 5 deadline. Charter school leaders stated on April 4 they had no intention of continuing to correspond with the district or engage in what they called an "ill-conceived 'revocation' exercise."
The short-lived plans to open a charter school in the district were first revealed in September when parents and staff from Bullis Charter School in the Los Altos School District announced their intent to open a new school in Mountain View. BMV submitted its charter petition in October, seeking approval to open a campus with 168 students in fall 2019, with a stated goal of enrolling a high number of low-income and English learner students.
District staff and school board members alike lamented that BMV sought to open a new school during a tumultuous year for the district, with the new Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School scheduled to open in August at the same time as entirely new attendance boundaries take effect district-wide. Hundreds of parents and district residents signed a petition opposing the opening of a charter school, arguing BMV's leadership failed to understand the culture and the needs of Mountain View Whisman students while rushing into the community.
While the Mountain View Whisman school board eventually voted to approve the charter school on Dec. 20, it was with distaste and came with a number of conditions that arguably sealed the fate of the charter school. District staff recommended a series of requirements be placed on the approval of the charter petition that BMV officials, months later, claimed were vague and impossible to achieve. Failure to meet the district's demands are among the reasons cited for revoking the charter next month.
Among the asks, the school board required BMV to enroll students in a way that "mirrors" the ethnic and socio-economic demographics of the city, and insisted that low-income students get top priority in an enrollment lottery. Once admitted into the school, students would have to take the same standardized tests used by the district, and all student subgroups would have to perform at least 5 percent better than district students.
In the months after the vote, there was virtually no correspondence between the district and BMV on how best to meet those conditions, followed by a terse and uncomfortable meeting on March 5 at which BMV's head of school, Jennifer Anderson-Rosse, told district board members the charter school had no choice but to ignore the requirements altogether.
BMV officials went on to delay the scheduled enrollment lottery, and weeks later announced they were giving up on plans to open a charter school in August -- suggesting in a March 21 letter that the district's conditional approval amounted to a denial of the charter petition.
It's likely that the revocation process that plays out through the end of the school year will be a formality rather than a fight, as BMV has severed communication with the district since early April and claimed that the district cannot revoke a charter that was never properly approved in the first place.