Lozano Smith's attorneys are recognized leaders in the state on charter school issues. The firm has been involved in every aspect of charter school law on behalf of education agencies throughout the state, including review of initial and renewal petitions, assisting boards with the denial and appeals process, assisting in all aspects of facilities issues, drafting Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for operational and special education services, assisting staff in oversight of approved charters, and charter revocation. The firm has also assisted school districts and county boards of education to establish and operate dependent charter schools.

Areas of Practice

To ensure the success of its clients, the Charter Schools Practice Group specializes in:

  • Review of petitions to establish charter schools
  • MOUs for operational and special education services
  • Reviewing and assisting districts with renewal and revocation processes
  • Navigate facilities obligations to charter schools

Real World Applications

The firm’s attorneys help school districts and county offices of education navigate the law and manage their relationships with the charter schools that they authorize. Our client authorizers vary, with charter school communities that are small and large. Lozano Smith has advised numerous clients on issues relating to Proposition 39 charter facilities and related funding questions. This has included negotiating facilities agreements and litigating issues regarding use of particular facilities.

Charter School Facilities

The firm has provided counsel and advocacy in every aspect of charter school law on behalf of authorizers throughout the state, including assisting in all aspects of charter school facilities issues and Prop. 39. Lozano Smith has provided advice to many school district clients on issues regarding Proposition 39, charter school facilities, and related legal obligations. This advice has been on issues related to negotiating facilities agreements with charter schools, reviewing and negotiating charter school petitions, as well as litigating issues regarding use of particular facilities. We also counsel large and diverse school districts that are impacted by a high concentration of charter schools.

Ethnic Studies to Become a Required High School Course

By:Chelsea Olson Murphy, Joshua Whiteside -

November 2021Number 42On October 8, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 101, which will require all local educational agencies (LEAs) including charter schools, serving high school students to provide a full-year course in ethnic studies to high school students by the 2025-26 school year. AB 101 also will require completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement for students graduating in the 2029-30 school year and beyond.A sim...

Appellate Court Clarifies What School Districts May Charge Charter Schools for Facilities

By:Edward Sklar, Everett McLean II -

November 2021Number 41The California Court of Appeal has held that school districts must exclude maintenance and operations costs from their calculations when determining the pro rata fees of a charter school that pays for its own maintenance and operations. (Mt. Diablo Unified School District v. Clayton Valley Charter High School (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 1004.) “Pro rata fees” are the “rent” a charter school pays to a school district for the charter school’s use of...

New Laws Affect County Offices of Education: County Superintendent Oversight Duties and Student Board Members

By:Ryan Tung -

November 2021Number 39On October 8, 2021, the Governor signed Assembly Bills (AB) 559 and 824 into law. AB 559 provides a new process for identifying schools that county superintendents are required to inspect each year. AB 824 authorizes county boards of education and charter schools to appoint high school pupils as members of their governing boards in response to a student petition.AB 559Previously, Education Code section 1240 required a county superintendent of schools to annually inspect ...

New Legislation Will Impact Student Health

By:Desiree Serrano -

November 2021Number 37Three new bills signed by Governor Newsom impact student health including requiring the development of type 1 diabetes information to be made available to parents or guardians, making menstrual products more accessible in public school restrooms, and informing students on the best practices for returning to exercise and physical activity after displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19.Senate Bill 97 – Pupil Health: Type 1 Diabetes Information: Parent ...

Ninth Circuit Finds COVID-19 Limits on Public School In-Person Learning Permissible, but Not for Private Schools

By:Sloan Simmons, Kaitlyn Tucker -

September 2021Number 27The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in Brach v. Newsom (9th Cir. July 23, 2021, No. 20-56291) __ F.3d __, holding that the 14th Amendment rights of public school students and their parents were not violated when the State of California prohibited in-person learning in counties with high rates of COVID-19. However, the Ninth Circuit’s rationale did not extend to private school students and their parents, finding that the limitations p...

AB 130 Significantly Impacts Charter Schools: Charter Term and Nonclassroom-based Moratorium Extensions Headline Key Updates

By:Edward Sklar, Erin Hamor -

August 2021Number 18Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law the 2021-2022 Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 130 (Trailer Bill), imposing critical changes impacting charter schools and their authorizers. Notably, the Trailer Bill automatically extends the term of most charter petitions by two years. The Trailer Bill also extends the moratorium on nonclassroom-based charter schools by three years, to January 1, 2025.Charter Term ExtensionsAll charter petitions that wou...

Significant Changes to Independent Study for the New School Year

By:Carrie Rasmussen, Ruth Mendyk -

July 2021Number 14The 2021-2022 Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill (Trailer Bill) includes significant short-term and long-term changes to independent study. (See Ed. Code, § 51745, et seq.) For the 2021-2022 school year only, school districts and county offices of education (COE) will be required to offer an independent study program to meet the educational needs of pupils. Charter schools are not required to provide independent study, but charter schools that do offer independent st...

Representative Cases

In New Jerusalem Elementary School District v. Academy of Arts & Sciences Charter School, San Joaquin County Superior Court Case No. STC-cv-UMC-2016-1072, Lozano Smith obtained a $1.5 million settlement on behalf of New Jerusalem School District against a charter schools for recovery of funds allocated to two charter schools previously operated by the charter schools, which become dependent charter schools operated by the District. The settlement was reached after Lozano Smith successfully argued that such funds belonged and should follow the students to which the funding was allocated by the State. The charter school argued that any funds not expended on instruction properly belonged to the nonprofit operating the schools, a practice commonly known as “sweeping” – and which is prevalent in charter management organizations that have ties to for-profit service providers. The $1.5 million settlement represented over 75% of the dollars at issue in the case.
In Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262, the Lozano Smith litigation team successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs.
CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance (“ELA”) often retains our firm to litigate matters that will have an impact on school districts and county boards of education on a statewide basis. We have been retained by ELA to file amicus briefing in matters where LAUSD was a party, including UTLA v. LAUSD (2012) 54 Cal.4th 504 (regarding whether provisions of California’s Charter Schools Act regarding petition review precludes the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.)
ELA retained Lozano Smith to request that the Court of Appeal publish a significant decision regarding charter school facilities under Prop. 39 (CCSA v. LAUSD (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 689.). The request to publish was successful.
Prevailing in litigation that challenged the Alameda County Board of Education’s decision not to renew a countywide charter school due to significant operational and governance issues.
Advising North Monterey County Unified School District on the oversight and revocation of the charter of a nonclassroom-based charter school that persistently permitted the purchase of religious instructional materials with public funds.
Working with the Board of the Sacramento City Unified School District through the closure of the Visual and Performing Arts Charter School (VAPAC) and negotiations over the disposition of VAPAC’s assets and the resolution of its debts to the District.
Working with Westwood Unified School District to address fiscal and conflict of interest issues at a charter school, and, in lieu of revocation, negotiating a settlement agreement that allowed the charter school to continue operating after taking measures to address the district’s concerns.
Successfully defended a charter school’s challenge in Superior Court to the Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s rights to control use of its facilities.
Assisted a school district in community discussions regarding fiscal and programmatic impacts a new charter school would have on that Basic Aid district.
Provided counsel to numerous school districts through denial of the charter school petition and subsequent appeals to the County and State Boards of Education.
Assisted in the formation of “dependent” charter schools.
Worked with a school district to favorably settle an audit appeal on behalf of a dependent charter school that would have disallowed half of the school’s annual budget. We were able to demonstrate compliance by the District for a significant portion of the independent study attendance accounting requirements that were the subject of the finding.
Successfully defended a charter school’s challenge in Superior Court to a school district’s rights to control use of its facilities.
Successfully prosecuted the revocation of the charter of Gateway Charter School. Successfully defended Fresno Unified School District from $1.8 million in claims from the charter school’s creditors.
Assisted West Park Elementary School District in revoking the charter of Rosalyn Charter School - avoiding any litigation against the district challenging its decision.