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LASD demands Santa Clara County act to reverse alleged charter school discrimination

Los Altos district trustees say 'comprehensive' plan is needed to bring more underserved students to Bullis Charter School

The Los Altos School District fired off a letter to county education officials last week citing data and parent statements alleging that Bullis Charter School has a long history of deterring low-income and special needs students from enrolling.

The 41-page letter is the latest in a three-way dispute between the school district, the charter school and the Santa Clara County Office of Education over whether Bullis' skewed enrollment demographics are the result of a conscious effort to discourage families of underserved students from seeking admission.

Bullis Charter School leaders sharply dispute the claim, stating the school is open to all who apply and that its resulting demographics aren't that different from several district-run schools. Bullis Board Chair Joe Hurd said the letter is full of old allegations, anti-charter school rhetoric and "erroneous, hysterical charges" against Bullis.

"It is disappointing and frustrating to see the Los Altos School District working overtime to mislead our community and depict BCS as anything other than what it is: a great educational option for all students in the district," Hurd said.

The letter cites data showing that only 1.6% of students enrolled in Bullis Charter School are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, a metric used to gauge the number of low-income students, compared to 6.2% across district schools. The charter school also enrolls fewer English learners and children with disabilities including autism, orthopedic impairments, intellectual disabilities and emotional disturbances.

School district trustees say the rates are a concern because Bullis Charter School draws students from all over the district and, on paper, should have a student body that roughly reflect the demographics of the area. The data alone demonstrates a "disparate impact that must be corrected," according to the letter.

But graphs alone weren't enough to convince the county's leadership of a problem, at least not right away. In an Oct. 2 letter to the district, County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan wrote that the district's claims need to be backed up with "any and all evidence and documentation" showing a clear pattern of discrimination before the office of education will take any action. The county requested the evidence by Oct. 23, but the district requested an extension before sending a response on Oct. 30.

Discouraging request for donations

The discrimination alleged in the letter is largely bifurcated. The first is that low-income families are not effectively advertised to during open enrollment, which could explain why so few of the district's hundreds of low-income students end up at Bullis Charter School.

Trustees wrote in the letter that hand-out FAQs advertising the school state that families are asked to donate $5,000 per student per year towards Bullis Charter School's annual fundraising campaign. Prominently displaying the request for money "serves to discourage" low-income families.

"Many families residing within the boundaries of LASD are living at the edge of their means in order to ensure their child gets a top-notch education. These same families often qualify for free or reduced lunch," the letter states. "Needless to say, a $5,000 donation expectation is definitely a deterrent to applying in the first place."

Charter school officials have made clear that $5,000 donations are not a requirement and should not be confused with tuition, though it does remain an essential funding stream to keep Bullis Charter School financially solvent. More than one-third of the school's budget, or about $3.7 million, comes from grants and contributions each year, according to the school's 2017 tax documents. The school would be fiscally unsound without the money, county staff found during Bullis' charter renewal in 2016.

The letter also cites problems with Bullis Charter School's international field trips to places like China, London, Costa Rica and Washington, D.C., which are expected to be paid for by the families, according to the letter. Hurd contends that the claim is misleading, however: Those trips are neither compulsory nor considered part of the curriculum, and students may opt out.

The second and more serious set of claims in the letter suggest that families with students who have special needs, or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), are actively discouraged from enrolling in Bullis by charter school staff -- from early information nights all the way to the start of the school year.

The Los Altos School District provided a letter from a parent whose name was withheld, sent in April this year, describing how charter school staff attempted to dissuade her from signing her child up for Bullis Charter School. She recounted how she went to the charter school's campus to pick up a registration packet in 2011 and told the administrative staff that her child had a disability that required a speech pathologist. She said she was told that the charter school does not provide a speech pathologist and that her child "needs" to be enrolled in a district-run school for those services.

Even if she paid for a private speech pathologist, the charter school staffer said that Bullis would be the wrong choice because the teacher would be unable to understand the student's speech. The employee then declined to give her a registration packet, according to the letter.

Another letter, sent to the board last month by parent Alison Biggs, states that Bullis Charter School persuaded her not to even consider enrolling at Bullis Charter School because of her child's IEP, and that she heard the charter school required parents to disclose a child's IEP status on the enrollment application as recently as 2012.

School board president Jessica Speiser also described in the letter that, up to at least 2017, she had heard firsthand from a parent about difficulties receiving services for a dyslexic child at Bullis Charter School.

The letter comes with two declarations from parents submitted during a prior legal battle in 2012 over alleged discrimination, which trustees admit are dated but nevertheless say represent a pattern of "BCS misbehavior" that leads to fewer high-needs students ending up enrolled at Bullis Charter School.

"Only clear and firm corrective action by the county can reverse the cumulative and corrosive effect of 15 plus years of 'skimming,'" according to the letter.

Hurd told the ==P Voice== that the charter school does provide special education services through an arrangement with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, which has provided speech, occupational therapy and resource specialist services for Bullis Charter School for more than a decade. The school does not have a Special Day class for students who don't do well in mainstream classrooms, but does work with the county to provide placement and services for those students in the least restrictive environment.

Priority for low-income kids?

The relatively low number of low-income students in Bullis Charter School has long been on the radar of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, which oversees the school's operations and is responsible for renewing its charter. But the agency has, up until now, taken a hands-off approach.

During the most recent charter renewal in 2016, county staff noted that Bullis Charter School's administrators have been forthcoming and willing to talk about revising admissions preferences to prioritize students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. The charter school's superintendent at the time, Wanny Hersey, said she was working with county staff on how to best address the concerns over demographics.

What the conversation actually meant depends on who you ask. The Los Altos School District letter states that the charter school's leadership agreed to come up with some type of enrollment preference for low-income students that never materialized. Hurd said he believes that meant the charter school would look into potential discrepancies in demographics between Bullis and district-run schools. He points out that other Los Altos district-run schools, including Gardner Bullis and Oak elementaries, have roughly the same percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals as Bullis Charter.

In the years that followed, parents and staff from the charter school began working on an effort to create a second Bullis Charter School designed to serve low-income and minority students. The effort culminated last year when Bullis Mountain View, a newly formed nonprofit, submitted a charter petition to open a school in the Mountain View Whisman School District. The charter was begrudgingly approved but was later revoked after a months-long feud over district-imposed requirements on student demographics and testing.

To leaders of the Los Altos School District, Bullis Mountain View was an effort to open an entirely different school to serve needy students in lieu of diversifying its flagship campus in Los Altos.

"BCS's practices favor a separate school for free and reduced (priced meals) students over allowing those same protected class students in the district they already operate in to enjoy the equal benefits of the original BCS," according to the letter.

Since the initial allegations lodged by the school district against Bullis Charter School in September, county staff been unavailable or unwilling to be interviewed by the ==P Voice== despite multiple requests. County Superintendent Dewan declined to comment about the most recent Oct. 30 letter.

The back-and-forth over the alleged discriminatory practices comes right as Bullis Charter School is beginning its open enrollment process for the 2020-21 school year, which runs through Jan. 10 next year. More than 1,000 students apply to the school each year -- far exceeding the available space -- which Hurd says shows high interest despite "bad faith arguments and harmful rhetoric" from the district.

Bullis Charter School had originally intended to bring back an enrollment preference for the 2020-21 school year that would give higher priority to incoming kindergartners residing in the so-called Bullis-Purissima Elementary School boundary, which is widely regarded to be more affluent than other parts of the district. Dewan wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to the charter school that county officials are concerned such a preference could run afoul with laws prohibiting charter schools from limiting enrollment access for underserved students.

The charter school later announced it was dropping plans to bring back the enrollment preference, but the Los Altos School District trustees say they are still not convinced it's gone for good. In its Oct. 30 letter, the board called on the county to take additional measures to ensure the the preference is "permanently suspended" and for all grade levels.

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Comments

25 people like this
Posted by Capt Obvious
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 5, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Capt Obvious is a registered user.

If the charter school really is telling prospective families in their standard FAQ messaging that "families are asked to donate $5,000 per student per year" that will be understood to be quasi-tuition. No two ways about that. No wonder the charter has dramatically different demographic compared to the district. This is not an accident, and this is exactly where the county's oversight duty has been lacking


2 people like this
Posted by Notsure
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 2:45 pm

I don’t understand why kids whose parents pay 0 per year can go to the same school with kids whose parents pay 5k per year.

They pay that much to make the school better so their kids could have better education.

Face the reality, you paid nothing and you don’t deserve it.


21 people like this
Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm

@Notsure wrote "I don’t understand why kids whose parents pay 0 per year can go to the same school with kids whose parents pay 5k per year.

They pay that much to make the school better so their kids could have better education.

Face the reality, you paid nothing and you don’t deserve it"

Uhhh, because it's a public school receiving state and local money, paid for (wait for it....) the taxpayers??????


35 people like this
Posted by A Tired Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:34 pm

LASD Trustees' utter lack of evidence is appalling. They have:

* a letter from a parent whose name was withheld ...She recounted how she went to the charter school's campus to pick up a registration packet in 2011..."

* Another letter...by parent Alison Biggs...she heard the charter school required parents to disclose a child's IEP status on the enrollment application as recently as 2012.

So, 2 letters total about incidents dating back 7 to 8 years. One person didn't want to be named. The other - Alison Biggs - has posted on nextdoor saying she would like Bullis to just disappear.

THIS is the basis for their hysterical claims of discrimination?!! Can we trust ANYTHING the trustees say?


23 people like this
Posted by LASD in Attack Mode
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:37 pm

It's no surprise LASD is crafting these allegations while they feel the pressure to meet their facilities obligation to BCS (Prop 39). BCS students now comprise 20% of the public school population and they are legally entitled to equitable facilities (i.e. NOT portables in former parking lots). How can LASD make these accusations about discrimination when BCS's enrollment data mirrors two of the districts own schools? Is LASD working to solve their own diversity issues? I didn't think so.
There are many factors that dissuade low-income families from enrolling at BCS, most importantly a shorter kindergarten day and a lack of on-site after school care. Is LASD open to providing space for after-school programs on both BCS campuses so these numbers improve? I didn't think so,
BCS receives $5,000 less funding per student than LASD. They seek the support of families to make up the difference. It is not promoted at info nights but when the question comes up parents are told they are encouraged to give what they can. Is LASD willing to share parcel tax funds with BCS to lessen this gap and reduce the requested donation amount? I didn't think so.
.


8 people like this
Posted by Auto enroll
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Here’s an idea: LASD automatically register its entire roster to Bullis. The charter must pick randomly from that pool of applicants, which will sort out the demographics issues for the most part unless chosen families deliberately decline enrollment, in which case replacements are again randomly selected from the applicant pool.

Furthermore, the distribution of randomly selected ELL and special needs students should sort that out. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Bullis, like any other public school, legally required to provide those necessary services?


10 people like this
Posted by Alison Biggs
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:23 pm

@A Tired Parent: yep! I have written that. This is because I do not agree with charter schools, and specifically dislike BCS for its elitist discrimination. All of the money they have spent on lawsuits, duplicate administration (or double-duplicate given that Wanny was paid twice what the LASD superintendent was paid!), etc - imagine what could have been done in LASD, a district that has no need of a charter school. I fundamentally disagree with taxpayer money being used by a non-elected, unaccountable Board that seems hell-bent on destroying our district. Also, I want their teachers to unionize! I've written to the Town Crier about that before as well, if you're keeping track. :)

AND YET, I also, when first looking at schools after moving to Los Altos, looked at BCS because as someone who grew up in Canada, I really didn't know much of anything about charters yet, and figured it was worth a look. Discovering the IEP issue was one of the first steps to discovering the huge number of issues with BCS. So, it is true that I never would have sent my kids there even without the IEP issue, but the fact I didn't even have to dig very far into their funding, administration, unionization, etc problems and was already turned off is kind of hilarious to me.

P.S. I am also really tired! Keeping up this level of advocacy for strong public schools, accountability, inclusion, good governance, and diversity gets to you after a while. But you know, it's for the kids.


12 people like this
Posted by Andres Lagar-Cavilla
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:44 pm

Read attachments B and D here

Web Link

and play the world's tiniest violin


1 person likes this
Posted by MMICS
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:31 pm

Andres,

I read attachments B and D as you suggested. Rather than playing the world’s tiniest violin, I found that those statements appear to closely mirror what was stated during the failed Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter School effort. MMICS included in its petition an illegal provision requiring students entering at an older age to test in based on Mandarin language fluency. When the county highlighted that this was unlawful at its public appeal and asked how MMICS would address this, rather than offering MLL (Mandarin Language Learner) support services equivalent to ELL to bring children up to grade level in the language, the charter (kudos for being honest on this point) stated that they would “council out” such applicants.


19 people like this
Posted by Sheer Numbers
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:12 pm

People should keep in mind that this charter school enrolls 1100 students this year and has long had an applicant pool such that maybe 500 or 1000 potential students did not get in. Out of all these students, maybe 10% need special education accommodations. The school has operated for 16 years and has been growing all along.

So I find it odd that there are so few parents willing to proclaim their dissatisfaction regarding special education services at the school. Every year there are maybe a dozen sets of parents upset with LASD's special education services. There is arbitration and adminstrative review invoked repeatedly at LASD. But these same few parents have been dumping on BCS for years. Surely there should be more parents upset than that if BCS is doing something wrong.

Take one of the applicants who went straight to BCS with a child who was in preschool but had special needs. BCS told her to go to LASD. Well, that's correct. The entirety of preschool special education is outside the purview of any charter school. The district has a special program for preschool students who are not yet in regular TK-12 school. Yet the stupid parent makes a big deal of a secretary at BCS telling her to go see LASD. "Who's LASD?" she said. My goodness, is BCS supposed to the gatekeeper for services from LASD? I don't believe so....


7 people like this
Posted by Community Minded
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:16 pm

Community Minded is a registered user.

So thankful for Alison’s story and comments!!! Totally agree and couldn’t have said it better! Kudos to Alison for her honesty (and she’s not discriminating against children, so I can say that), as well as for her bravery, perception, clarity, humanity, decency, logic, community mindedness...


Like this comment
Posted by Sheer Numbers
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:16 pm

And another thing. Each child who moves into LASD territory darn well better apply to LASD too even if they choose to apply to BCS. LASD will shaft them otherwise when they try to attend LASD if they miss out on a slot in the lottery. You can't just apply to BCS. You have to apply to LASD.


21 people like this
Posted by Donations Required?
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2019 at 1:03 am

At the BCS Parent Info Night I went to (2017), it was clear that a donation was completely voluntary.

At many meetings since, and throughout the various websites and other materials, BCS and Foundation bent over backwards to be clear that donations are not required to attend in full standing.

Donations can be anonymous, meaning it's not possible to identify who didn't donate. And nobody cares anyway! It's a public school so everyone has the same right to attend.

LASD found exactly one document that mentioned a donation and didn't correctly cover butts by saying the donation is voluntary.

So who's creating fear, uncertainty and doubt around donations? BCS or the opponents of BCS? Pretty obvious to me.

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Jus the Facts
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 9:38 am

Jus the Facts is a registered user.

@LASD in Attack Mode: the simple reason LASD focused on demographic comparison between the charter student body profile and the overall aggregate district student body is because that's the comparison set forth in charter law: "the charter school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted." That means LASD overall. The obvious gap in the analysis is private school enrollments. Hypothetically, if included in the data set, the demographic profile of students living in LASD enrolled in private schools would help to close the perceived delta between the charter school demographics and the district demographics. But it's never been appropriate to compare charter demographics to just one or two of the district schools. It's obvious why charter promoters should prefer to make that comparison, but it's wrong under the law, and there's probably a stronger case to be made elsewhere.


3 people like this
Posted by Jus the Facts
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 9:43 am

Jus the Facts is a registered user.

@Sheer numbers: BCS actually is doing something wrong. They under-enroll Special education students and in particular students needing higher cost support. On the one hand you could say that BCS enrolls as much special ed as they can manage, which may be true, but that doesn't mean under-resourcing and under-enrolling special ed is right


6 people like this
Posted by Capt Obvious
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:12 am

Capt Obvious is a registered user.

"Auto enroll" is onto something truly obvious/// why didn't I think of that? Add every student name into the lottery. If they win the lottery and don't take the space for whatever reason, no problem, but at least it would be more fair.


22 people like this
Posted by A Tired Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

@Jus the Facts

You are spreading the wrong information. The quote you cited is missing a crucial chunk, which completely changes the meaning.

What it actually says is:

-----

"The governing board of the school district shall not deny a petition...unless

(5) The petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all of the following...

(G) The means by which the charter school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted."

---

Saying that charter school WILL achive racial and and ethnic balance is COMPLETELY different than saying that it will have a description of the means by which the balance will be achieved.

Also, BCS does NOT under-enroll Special education student. Following is taken from another post:

------
But, according to California Dept of Education's 2018 numbers (caschooldashboard.org), there are 4 schools at around 7% for disabilities, including Bullis:

Gardner Bullis 6.5%
>> BCS 6.9%
Covington 7.2%
Almond 7.3%

Loyola 9.2%
Santa Rita 9.9%
Oak 10%
Springer 13.1%

----

Why do LASD-proponents keep on spreading lies?


10 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:57 am

The auto enrollment idea is genius. LASD should do that. And if BCS refuses to accept the auto enrollments in their lottery then LASD should refuse to provide BCS with facilities.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:08 pm

To those wondering why bcs parents don’t speak out, here are two words: Joe Hurd. He will call you out in parking lots, on the phone, in public, anywhere, for speaking your mind or not lying your $5k. Parents have come to LASD office hours and shared with LASD board members in confidence that they are cared of retaliation if they speak up.
Think about it. Are 100% of bcs parents 100% happy? No, that’s not possible. Are they speaking out? No. Why? They can’t.


26 people like this
Posted by Bogus Argument
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:27 pm

There is no requirement that charter schools serve an equal balance of students who the district feels are expensive to educate, or even who are actually expensive to educate. That's not a race. It's very subjective. LASD spends triple what is the norm in the county on special education per student. That's a CHOICE made by LASD. There is no rule that a charter must match the district's spending on special education students.

Keep in mind that LASD only provides to BCS about 1/2 of the funding per student. Also keep in mind that there are only 50 or so of these expensive to educate special education students with moderate to severe needs, who are served in special classes operated at only a few of the LASD schools. Of the schools where LASD serves moderate to severe needs, each program is specialized. The SDC class sizes vary. It's quite common that for a certain SDC student ONLY ONE school in LASD
is available for their special class. Furthermore, LASD takes in students from outside the district into these expensive classes, and sends some of its own students elsewhere for the education. It would be an unfair expectation for a charter school to offer this extremely complex and variable level of service to special education students. It would also be pointless since they would not be able to get any special benefit from having this at a charter school, unlike the other students. And of course, this is the practice throughout the state, and LASD knows this. This is a brazen attack on the very idea of charter schools, not something specific to BCS.


6 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:38 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


18 people like this
Posted by MRP
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:41 pm

@Parent- seriously? I would imagine if parents are unhappy at BCS they leave. I don’t think Los Altos parents are that meek and live in fear of Joe Hurd!


1 person likes this
Posted by Jus the Facts
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Jus the Facts is a registered user.

@Tired Parent: Wakeup, you must really be tired. the point of this discussion is the proper basis of comparison, which is "charter" versus "district" and not any individual school(s). If/when you read LASD's October 31st letter you may recall it said, referring to anti-discrimination regulations for non-ethnic student subgroups, "As amended by AB 1505, section 47605 of the Education Code further requires a charter school to enroll a balance of special education, ELL, and re-designated ELL students that reflects the local school district." Again, the correct comparison is "charter" versus "district" Now go enjoy a nap.


22 people like this
Posted by AB1505
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 6:18 pm

OK, so clearly the last post is from a shill of the teacher union who is also misleading people. AB1505 won't be effective until a year from now. The definition of implementing regulations won't come until after that. Also it only affects approving new petitions not to enforcement actions against existing schools. But the LASD complaint only cites moldy old complaints from 10 years ago. So we have a sort of an effort to make an ex post factor law here, in the minds of the CTA shill making this post.


32 people like this
Posted by Just the Real Facts
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2019 at 6:44 pm

Thank you @AB1505 for correcting @Jus the fact's misinformation. The SCCOE letter to LASD blasting their misinformation and deliberate attempt to sow divisiveness in our community was spot on! The fact that LASD's response only included a few old and weak allegations that were addressed a long time ago said it all. LASD, stop wasting taxpayer money on hollow, misleading legal letters, and get back to the business of educating the kids! If LASD didn't take in Special Ed kids from outside the district and get paid more from the other districts for that, I wonder how their numbers would be. Also, stop trying to tell the public that BCS is bad for Special Ed or SED students (which is obviously a lie since they do well in BCS' individualized learning environment) to try to deter them from applying to the lottery and then you can protest that they aren't going to BCS in numbers that you want.


24 people like this
Posted by A Tired Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 7:17 pm

@Jus the Facts

You are wrong again:

1. AB 1505 does NOT "require a charter school to ENROLL a balance of special education...that reflects the local school district." A school can't MAKE special needs children go to their school. Therefore, no school can GUARANTEE a certain percentage of special needs ENROLLMENT.

The previous documentation requirement of "means by which the charter school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance..." is still there.

AB 1505 also says charter school "shall not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of ... disability."

This requires proof of discrimination. As discussed above, there's appalling little evidence of discrimination based on disability.

You are wrong again that the number to be compared against is district students. AB 1505 says "reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district", which should also include PRIVATE school students.

LASD's letter cites "LASD’s enrollment of special education pupils
[at] averaged 9.5%". Bullis's number is 6.9 - a difference of 2.6%. The difference is likely a lot smaller once you include private school students residing within the district and EXCLUDE the out-of-district special needs students.

< 2.6% of is the basis of LASD's hysterical claim of discrimination?!? It's just absurd.


Like this comment
Posted by AB1505
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Great. Two lawyers talking to each other via intermediary vassals. Super.


14 people like this
Posted by A Tired Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 8:13 pm

To add to my previous post on special needs students %. Oddly, LASD uses 2018 numbers for socioeconomically disadvantaged and English learner students. But, it uses 2012-2018 numbers for special ed.

The 2018 percentage for special ed students at LASD is 8.8%.

So, the difference between LASD and BCS is only 1.9%. Then, we need to subtract the out-of-district special ed students attending LASD schools and take into account private school students.

So, the Trustees are screaming about < 1.9% difference. Just crazy.


15 people like this
Posted by Just the Real Facts
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:16 pm

@A Tired Parent - thanks for noticing LASD's reporting discrepancy. Seems very deceptive of LASD not to report based on 2019. Is it on the CA Dept of Ed site? Even their claim of 2.6% difference was an inconsequential difference, esp. when LASD takes out-of-district special ed student, which pays LASD more per student. But a 1.9% difference between LASD and BCS (including LASD's out-of-district students) makes LASD's false narrative even more outrageous. Let the truth shine through facts!


2 people like this
Posted by Jus the Facts
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:20 pm

Jus the Facts is a registered user.

Let me make this easier for you: under no circumstance at any time for any student subgroup is it valid to assess a charter school’s enrollment makeup against that of an individual school within a district.

Pick your section of Ed Code, pick your student subgroup, pick your sample date, pick your margin of error, pick your rationale, it’s never the correct comp


11 people like this
Posted by A Tired Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:49 pm

@Just the Real Facts,

Yes, I took the numbers from my previous post. The data source is California Department of Education (caschooldashboard.org)

I took the 7 elementary schools plus BCS (since most in BCS are LASD residents), added the percentages, and then divided by 8, which returned 8.8%.

But, reading the law again, I should have included Egan and Blach as well. The average is even smaller - 8.6%.

So, the difference between "district" average and BCS is 1.7%. Again, we need to subtract the out-of-district students and factor in the private school students. So, the number is likely < 1.7%.

@Jus the Facts - it sounds like you are unable to follow our discussion. We are talking about DISTRICT averages.

-----

Gardner Bullis 6.5%
BCS 6.9%
Covington 7.2%
Almond 7.3%

Loyola 9.2%
Santa Rita 9.9%
Oak 10%
Springer 13.1%

Egan 5.9%
Blach 9.5%


Like this comment
Posted by Don’t bother w the Facts
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:49 pm

Don’t bother w the Facts is a registered user.

After reading these many red herring retorts, it’s clear that murky is their goal. The charter fans would rather argue decimal points and union sabotage than even try to grok the basics of the relevant comparison basis set forth in the law. Why bother?


11 people like this
Posted by AB1505
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:08 pm

It is clearly LASD who are picking nits with their accusation. Just read their letter!


18 people like this
Posted by AB1505
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:22 pm

If you want to look at the theme and concentration in LASD's letter, they have clearly made it all about the cost. They clearly begrudge each of the Special needs students the amount that LASD has to spend on him or her.

Now AB1505 has not yet taken effect. So merely mentioning it at this point is improper and irrelevant, but it is LASD who is playing this game. Ok, then consider this. AB1505 does not mention anything about costs to educate any of their populations. LASD is breaking Special Needs populations into categories. It's not at all clear that AB1505 supports this concept. Why is this important? Well it goes back to LASD's consuming preoccupation with COST. LASD is using the cost to educate each subpopulation of special needs as the basis of its aspersions. Well, here again, this is not the spirit or the letter of the changes made in AB1505. Of course, it was never the relevant issue previously issue.

There is absolutely no basis to complain about Bullis Charter school's demographic makeup in comparison to LASD. It's different slightly. Big deal. A slight difference is not material to any of the laws. This obsession is completely on the part of LASD and no one else. Well, their lawyer is and the teachers' union lawyers are looking for excuses to throw stones. But it's not a valid concern for anyone. Imposing a requirement that the make up PRECISELY match that of LASD could have been written into the charter laws, but it wasn't previously and it isn't in AB1505 either.

Someone claiming that this is dodging the issue is blind to the fact that this is PRECISELY the issue.

If LASD insists on making this about costs, they'll have to go back and get a new law passed. Additionally, in existing law, all funding for special education is specifically handled separately. The costs that LASD bemoans are Not considered actual costs of special education for the purposes of state law. State funding is funneled through and administrative entity called a SELPA. In SC County there are 5 different SELPA. LASD is part of one SELPA and I'm not even sure of BCS is in the same SELPA as LASD. But if it is, it is the correct population to judge for matching of special education proportions among the student populations, FOR COSTS. LASD is the party focusing on costs.

I think some lawyers can make a lot of money litigating this issue, and it will not come cheaply for LASD to nitpick like this.

An interesting question: some people here have looked up Special Ed percentages. What is the percentage reported for surrounding districts? MVWSD? MVLA? PAUSD? CUSD? I have heard it said that many many people with special needs kids move to LASD because LASD spends so much to fund each special ed student requiring SDC style classes. On the same token, considering that LASD accepts students in its SDC classes from outside the district, how does one judge that percentage? What is the RESIDENT population of special education students within LASD's territory? How many special ed students does LASD actually fund receiving education from other districts or private institutions?

How can anyone say that BCS has a variance from LASD if these considerations aren't accounted for? Given the old dates on the ancient complaints dug up by LASD when challeneged by SCCOE, it seems likely that there is not even any real perceived discrimination regarding admission to BCS. It all seems to be a figment of some lawyer's elaborate basis to draft litigation...


3 people like this
Posted by Agreed about Funding
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:34 pm

Agreed about Funding is a registered user.

As long as we’re going to dismiss concerns about the financial impacts of program delivery for enrolled students, then LASD should stop sharing parcel taxes with Bullis. Let Bullis and District both live within their means. Too bad a charter school has no taxing power.


19 people like this
Posted by Just the Real Facts
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Wow, so only a 1.7% difference between LASD and BCS (and LASD even takes Special Ed from outside the district to get more students)? What an empty false narrative - facts speak the truth. I want to know how much taxpayer money LASD wastes on legal fees for these dead-end political stunts.


18 people like this
Posted by AB1505
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2019 at 12:34 am

People don't realize LASD has 2 parcel taxes. One is about $592 and the other is about $200. Guess which one LASD shares with BCS? Only one is shared based on the percentage of the PREVIOUS year's enrollment at BCS out of the total number of students in LASD's boundaries.

It really makes little difference that LASD shares. They only do it because with 30% of the voters supporting BCS so strongly, the renewal of the tax wouldn't have passed without this proviso. They needed 2/3 to support the tax to add it on.

At one point the 2nd tax was almost entirely used to fund LASD's lawyers in their overpaid lawsuit contesting sharing any facilities with BCS, before it expired and had to be renewed.


9 people like this
Posted by Twist and spin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2019 at 5:46 am

I do enjoy a good Bullis apologists take on things. It's such a fantastical way to look at something.
The college admissions scandal was a turning point for many of these exclusionary or buy your way in schools.
My neighbor who used to joke about "Well, there are ways in other than the standard method" has become very quiet.
The fact that many local families, and you know who you are B.Z. and J.M., would be very embarrassed if the info got out.
Meanwhile the apologists deflect, hoping to somehow save their private party paid for with public funds.


2 people like this
Posted by Come again?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 7, 2019 at 7:22 am

Come again? is a registered user.

So if a special ed family moves to (chooses) LASD for their child because LASD does a better job for special ed students that’s a bad thing?


4 people like this
Posted by Jus the Data
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 7, 2019 at 10:10 am

Jus the Data is a registered user.

Strange that LASD is accused here of providing so little evidence of discrimination. The whole point of the charts provided in the Oct response letter and in older complaints to the county is that there are many cases of discriminatory impacts across many ethnic and non-ethnic factors over 15 years. A written testimonial may be more detailed and colorful but the data behind the charts are just as real, we just don't have the associated narratives.


12 people like this
Posted by Divider of the community
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

I hate how bullis has ripped apart the community with their constant blame, victim playing and denials.


21 people like this
Posted by equityforallstudents
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2019 at 9:19 pm

equityforallstudents is a registered user.

LASD has had their own set of lawsuits. Alison Biggs won't mention that. LASD spends way too much time worrying about what BCS is doing. Go back to what you were elected to do. Focus on the LASD program. Anyone actually read the letter from Dewan? They are certainly not thrilled with the letter that Jessica wrote because it's a bunch of whining. So much wasted time.


21 people like this
Posted by Imagine no BCS...
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 7, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Imagine no BCS... is a registered user.

What if BCS had never existed?
1. Alison Biggs would have nothing to complain about and would still be looking for a school in Canada
2. LASD could figure out how to house 1k extra kids
3. LASD small neighborhood schools wouldn't be small (they would have 30 kids in some classes!)
4. LASD Board would actually have to focus on running the school district
5. Sangeeth would never have started his shady Outreach Circle and Jessica Speiser (Pres of LASD BoT) wouldn't have a job working for him
6. Maybe Doug Smith and Tammy Logan would have fought with each other instead of with BCS
7. LASD would have missed out on making money from the kids who otherwise attend BCS (less money in the bucket for the budget!)
8. Town Crier would have made less profit
9. Someone would have saved their pennies on making Save Our Neighborhood School signs
10. 6th grade could be middle school
11. LASD parents, board, PTA, teachers, etc would have all led a very dull life without BCS to blame for all of their problems.
12. Gardner Bullis would still be closed and schools even more crowded with Hills kids
13. No 10th site? Who knows. Maybe for private preschools.
14. Peipei and Sangeeth would have spent their days doing something else together besides creating Voter Guides to make sure LASD BoT throws BCS on the 10th site
15. LASD would have never written such a ridiculous letter and copied people at the state level and wasted everybody's time
16. Vlad would be very very very bored..


5 people like this
Posted by Imagine no BCS...
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 7, 2019 at 10:12 pm

Imagine no BCS... is a registered user.

17. LOL, just kidding!

But seriously, folks, if BCS had never been started by Craig Jones... just imagine how much less strife we would be living with.


2 people like this
Posted by Imagine no BCS...
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 7, 2019 at 10:47 pm

Imagine no BCS... is a registered user.

(To be fair to Craig, founding and still-current board member Francis LaPoll really was the one who formed the entity. Sorry Craig. Credit and blame where it’s due, always!)


9 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2019 at 8:33 am

Rose is a registered user.

Wow. Censorship has reached new heights here. I made a negative comment about teacher unions- nothing disrespectful - just that unions/tenure is a bad law that protects bad teachers- and my post was removed “due to disrespectful comment or offensive language.”
We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto - we must be in communist China!


19 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2019 at 9:12 am

Rose is a registered user.

@ Divider of the community-
I hate how LASD has ripped apart the community with their constant blame, victim playing and denials.

BCS is here to stay. Can’t y’all just get along? Give them Covington in exchange for an enrollment cap, move 6th to middle, forget the 10th site (enrollment is declining!) and spend the bond money improving all the schools. Win, win. LASD folks get to keep their small neighborhood schools, BCS gets a single campus that will house them indefinitely, all schools get much needed improvements, taxpayers don’t have to spend endless $$ on litigation, the community can live in peace. I really don’t understand why this feud needs to continue.


8 people like this
Posted by Imagine BCS...
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 8, 2019 at 9:39 am

Imagine BCS... is a registered user.

Imagine BCS charter is not renewed by the county over discriminatory impacts of administrative practices. Charters are temporary schools that require re-authorization every few years.

Imagine BCS decides being authorized by LASD would help mend the community divide. A charter that cooperated with, rather than fought, the district and community might even some day have a representative elected to the school board.

Imagine BCS declines an offer for the new 10th site campus. LASD’s only obligation is to make a “reasonably equivalent” offer of facilities. Maybe BCS would be happier securing its facilities somewhere else, from someone other than LASD..


13 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2019 at 10:34 am

A Parent is a registered user.

There's zero chance that that BCS charter will not be renewed due to discriminatory impacts.

1. AB1505 made it much easier for quality charters like Bullis to get renewed.

2. LASD is again lying about the SED differences.

LASD states that in 2018, 6.2% of LASD’s students were identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) compared to 1.6% at BCS.

But, comparing BCS's numbers against LASD students is the "wrong" comparison. The correct comparison is to the "general population" residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district. This means that private school students need to be included.

According to caschooldashboard.org and needanotherlook.com:

LASD schools: 61% (4243 students)
BCS: 13% (879 students)
Private School: 26%

So, based on these, my calculations:

LASD residents going to private schools: 1758 students.
SED in the "entire" district: 4.5% (assuming 2% SED in private schools)

So, the difference in SED between BCS and the entire district is 2.8%. This is far too small a difference to say that BCS's policies caused a discriminatory impact on SED students.

---

Section 47605(2)(G):
Web Link.


2 people like this
Posted by Great sleuthing
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 8, 2019 at 10:47 am

Great sleuthing is a registered user.

@A Parent has really outdone her/himself this time. Let’s break it down: 1. Going to guess that s/he has no actual legal expertise in this area 2. Someone else suggests an interpretation of the statute that private school enrollments may be appropriately included in the analysis 3. S/he recalculates enrollment stat comparison 4. Offers their personal judgement about how much of a difference in special ed enrollments is meaningful 5. Accuses the district of lying.

What is wrong with you?


9 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2019 at 11:00 am

A Parent is a registered user.

@Great Sleuthing - You obviously don't know how to read plain language.

Anyone who knows how to read knows that the language:

"reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted"

includes private school students because they too are part of the "general population residing..."

The point of commenting is to offer "personal judgement".

The rest of your post makes absolutely no sense, so I will not respond to those points.


2 people like this
Posted by Grampa Jim
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 8, 2019 at 11:06 am

Grampa Jim is a registered user.

I’ve been in the community for 58 years so if you tally up the general population you better include me and my friends who went to the public school


27 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The charter school is a public school. It receives 2/3 of its funding from tax dollars even though it spends less per student than does LASD. It also covers LASD's expenses to operate the facilities that LASD assigns to BCS--nothing is free. The charter school can't increase taxes or pass a bond measure, but otherwise, it is a public school.

Even when funding a child at BCS, LASD spends less for the child than it would spend if that student were enrolled in one of LASD's 9 district-run schools. Each school has its own operating budget and it varies from school to school just how much LASD spends, but it is always much more than it costs LASD to place that child at the charter school. So it saves the district a lot of money to have this charter school serving 1100 of the public school students for which LASD has responsibility. This is just a fact.

Not only that, but LASD spends additional money out of the district budget to send PE teachers and speech teachers and music teachers out to each of it schools. Theuy don't send such teachers to BCS. It costs LASD $6 Million or so each year to fund these teachers in the central office. Surely they would spend more if there were 1100 more students at the LASD schools. So the difference is even greater than what shows up in the budgets of the various schools.

LASD raises this argument that they are left with more expensive kids to educate. Well, that doesn't seem to be so. The LASD schools with the most low income students tend to spend less per student than do the other LASD schools. So one would conclude that the low income kids are actually LESS expensive for LASD to educate.

Their only remaining argument has to do with special education. BCS also has special education students. The only thing that BCS does not have currently is the SDC program found at LASD. For LASD, 50 or so special education students are in these SDC classes with high costs. They are budgeted separately at chosen schools within LASD, but not at all the schools. To compare schools in LASD you have to disregard the SDC budget, because there is no such budget at many schools. But that is truly an added expense at LASD not found at BCS. However, these students are better served in these special classes. They range from 4 to 10 students. Different classes serve different needs. LASD knows that it is not practical to include such specialized classes in a charter school with a reduced population. LASD has more of these SDC students than similar sized districts, but it still averages only 5 or so per school. LASD has a lot of bureaucracy in the central office to supervise these SDC programs. The truth is that if BCS got 5 random students out of this group it would have to send them to 5 different outside programs to find a small SDC class in which they could participate, because you can't just group 5 random SDC kids together and make a class. LASD doesn't do this and they know if it were done, it would be an inferior program. The parents would never choose such a hodge podge class for their SDC student. Charter schools are done by voluntary parental choice. So LASD hones in on this as something which is impossible that they can use to accuse BCS of avoiding the costly students. What they don't tell you is that LASD saves money on each of the kids that DOES choose BCS, and they can use that to pay for the SDC classes and district bureaucracies. They don't really lose out financially in having BCS in their district.


14 people like this
Posted by @Long Resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm

@Long Resident is a registered user.

Great explanation of how the finances work between LASD and BCS. Most people don't bother trying to understand or want to understand that BCS is better for district finances. Vote for best comment of the week.


4 people like this
Posted by Facts Matter
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 8, 2019 at 10:30 pm

Facts Matter is a registered user.

@LongResident - thank you for your incredibly informative comment. The facts you are pointing out are the REAL story that should have been covered a long time ago. The LASD schools with the most low income students are Santa Rita and Almond (by a long shot, as I recall?) - is there a report that shows spending per school? Shouldn't spending for each of the LASD schools be equal?


3 people like this
Posted by Howard Jarvis
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2019 at 8:03 am

Howard Jarvis is a registered user.

Regular like clockworks, there’s always 20% of a community that views public concerns thru a lens called My Tax Dollars. It’s just a fact of life, tried and true, as they say. In my long experience, these people tend to be called Conservative but they’re actually willing to sacrifice community rather than conserve it


2 people like this
Posted by Facts Question for MVV
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:35 am

Facts Question for MVV is a registered user.

@kevinforestieri, does LASD makes a profit from out of district special ed students or does it lose money (LASD reported that tuition revenues from out of district special ed students are $700k but what are costs)? How many out of district special ed students vs in-district special ed students does LASD have this 2019-2020 school year vs 2018-2019? And of those special ed students (out-of-district vs in-district), how many are in the SDC program? Thanks for getting these facts.


2 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2019 at 9:07 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

I've been doing some investigation of the Special Educations costs at LASD. They clearly accuse the charter school of causing their Special education costs to rise, by siphoning off district students who do not need Special education services to the same degree. The district basically poo-poo's the idea that Bullis students have any special ed costs at all. So I looked at LASD special ed costs in the 2010-11 and 2018-19 budgets. The fraction of the spending that goes to special ed has not changed significantly. There are FEWER special ed teachers in the district now than back 8 years ago. Bullis has added 500 students over that period. The district has only shrunk by 200 students. But if there were a material difference in the special ed composition caused by Bullis not taking on special ed students, you would expect the fraction to materially increase.

However, one interesting thing has happened in the special ed budget of LASD over that time period. Like all other costs, the district spent 50% more 8 years later. Inflation. But the district also now spends $2 Million per year out of a total $10 million special ed budget on 1-1 aides for Special Ed students. THAT is a big change. That's the only reason that the fraction of special ed spending has remained constant. LASD did not spend 20% of its special ed budget on 1-1 aides back in year 2010-11.

So if Bullis had not been serving special ed students, we'd expect to see the LASD special ed budget as a fraction of total spending grow to a larger share. But it has not. What is the basis for all LASD's postulation about discrimination costing them dollars? The proportions of total special ed spending out of all LASD spending has NOT changed.


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