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.

Legislation Roundup: New Holidays, Extended Statute of Limitations for Mandatory Reporter Violations, and Health Benefits for Striking Employers

By:Gabriela Flowers, Crystal Pizano -

November 2022Number 52September was a busy month for Governor Newsom, who signed into law several bills which will have a significant impact on public employers.  Included in the new legislation are bills creating new State holidays; extending the statute of limitations for prosecution of mandated reporters for failure to report child abuse or neglect; and requiring continued health benefits for striking public employees.HolidaysOn September 29, 2022, Governor Newson signed both Assembly...

Ninth Circuit Requires Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in Sprawling Distance Learning Lawsuit

By:Kyle Raney, Josh Walden -

October 2022Number 49In a highly anticipated decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Martinez v. Newsom (9th Cir. 2022) 46 F.4th 965, recently determined that a class action lawsuit brought by four students and their parents against all school districts in California lacked jurisdiction to be heard in federal district court, was moot in some respects in light of the return to in-person instruction, and that remaining claims against Etiwanda School District and Chaffey Joint Union High...

AB 2508: Reimagining Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in Schools

By:Sarah Garcia, Kaitlyn Tucker -

October 2022Number 50The COVID-19 pandemic certainly exacerbated, and in some ways highlighted, the challenges posed by student mental health issues.  The problem has received national attention, with many commenters characterizing it as a crisis.  In California specifically, over 284,000 young people cope with major depression, and suicide rates increased significantly between 2019 and 2020.  To combat this crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom announced California’s “Mast...

New Options for Local Legislative Bodies to Access Public Meetings Remotely

By:Ryan Tung, Anne Collins -

October 2022Number 48State lawmakers have given members of local legislative bodies a new option for remote participation in public agency meetings.Assembly Bill (AB) 361 previously provided for remote attendance during declared emergencies through January 1, 2024.  Now, effective January 1, 2023, AB 2449 retains existing Brown Act teleconferencing requirements for non-emergency situations, but also provides an additional opportunity for remote attendance even when there is no state of e...

Senate Bill 1100 Addresses Disruptive Public Conduct at Public Meetings

By:Anne Collins -

October 2022Number 45On August 21, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 1100, which authorizes the presiding member of a legislative body to remove disruptive individuals during a public meeting.  SB 1100 is intended to serve as a new mechanism for local officials to maintain the decorum of public meetings.BackgroundDue in part to the political climate and rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic, disorderly conduct at public meetings increased across California at alarming r...

Ninth Circuit Backs Fellowship of Christian Athletes Over Non-Discrimination Policy

By:Manuel Martinez, Josh Walden -

September 2022Number 42In a recently decided case, Fellowship of Christian Athletes v. San Jose Unified School District Board of Education (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2022, No. 22-15827), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district court and determined that the San Jose Unified School District’s use of its non-discrimination policy against the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) likely violated the First Amendment.  Consequently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals orde...

California Supreme Court Affirms Public School Districts Cannot be Sued Under Unruh Civil Rights Act for Disability Discrimination

By:Steve Ngo, Jessica Serrato -

September 2022Number 43The California Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court ruling that a public school district is not a “business establishment” and therefore cannot be liable for disability discrimination under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act or Act).  (Brennon B. v. Superior Court of Contra Costa County (Aug. 4, 2022, S266254) __ Cal.App.5th __.)  The Court concluded that the Unruh Act, as currently written, cannot reasonably be interpreted...

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.