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.

Legislative Update: New Requirements for COVID-19 Testing Plans and New Rules for Supplemental Vision Services for Students

By:Kyle Raney, Brooke Bolton Tiutan -

March 2023Number 13Two important bills, Senate Bill (SB) 1479 and Assembly Bill (AB) 2329, signed by Governor Newsom in September 2022, require school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to have a plan for COVID-19 testing in schools and authorize local educational agencies (LEAs) to provide supplemental vision services for students, in addition to those already required by law.SB 1479: COVID-19 Testing Plan Requirements SB 1479 added section 32096 to the Education Cod...

Ninth Circuit Upholds Student Discipline for Social Media Posts

By:Sloan Simmons, Joshua Whiteside, Michele Ellson -

March 2023Number 10In Chen v. Albany Unified School District (9th Cir. 2022) 56 F.4th 708, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges agreed with a lower court ruling that the school district’s decision to discipline students who created and commented on racist social media posts attacking classmates and school staff did not violate those students’ free speech rights when those off-campus posts circulated among other students at the school, disrupting classes and causing academic issues and ...

Ninth Circuit Holds Four-Month Delay in Autism Assessment Plan was not a Violation of IDEA

By:Jennifer Baldassari, Josh Walden -

March 2023Number 11In its recent opinion in D.O. v. Escondido Union School District (9th Cir. Jan. 31, 2023, No. 21-55498), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district court and determined a four-month delay in proposing to assess a student for autism was neither a procedural nor substantive violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).BackgroundThis case contained an extensive factual and procedural history about a student “experiencing...

Senate Bill 997 Gives Students a Voice in the LCAP Process

By:Daniel McElhinney, Haley Fagan -

February 2023Number 9Senate Bill (SB) 997 requires that, by July 1, 2024, all school districts and county offices of education serving students in middle or high school include students in the local control and accountability plan (LCAP) update process.BackgroundThe Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) refers broadly to the methods that primarily determine the level of funding California school districts receive from the State.  As a component of the LCFF system, local educational agenci...

The End of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Impacts Remote Board Meetings under AB 361

By:Anne Collins, Ryan Tung, Angela Okamura -

February 2023Number 8Effective March 1, 2023, local agencies will no longer have the option to rely on the COVID-19 proclaimed state of emergency to conduct fully remote legislative body meetings pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 361.BackgroundOn March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also signed various executive orders temporarily allowing legislative bodies of local agencies to conduct meetings virtually, relaxing the tradit...

Important Changes Regarding Liability to CalSTRS for Benefit Overpayment

By:Thomas Manniello, Emma Sol -

January 2023Number 1Governor Newsom has signed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1667, overhauling key parts of the CalSTRS benefit overpayment recovery process. AB 1667 stipulates that the party responsible for the error that caused a benefit overpayment must pay CalSTRS the full amount of the overpayment. AB 1667 also establishes a safe harbor for school district employers, where they can request an advisory letter from CalSTRS when reporting compensation. The full text of AB 1667 is located...

California Department of Education Issues Guidance for the Restart of Charter Renewals

By:Edward Sklar, Andrew Blan -

January 2023Number 2On October 13, 2022, the California Department of Education (CDE) distributed guidance related to the renewals of charter school petitions that will come before charter authorizers in the 2023-2024 school year. The CDE guidance can be found here. A brief refresher: 2019’s Assembly Bill (AB) 1505 modified the criteria for reviewing charter petition renewals, creating a three-tiered renewal system under which charter authorizers are required to consider a cha...

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.