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.

SB 760 Ensures All-Gender Restrooms Are Accessible to Students

By:Harold Freiman, Jenna Belmonte -

December 2023Number 46On September 23, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 760, which requires each school district, county office of education, and charter school maintaining any combination of classes from first grade to twelfth grade, inclusive, to provide and maintain at least one all-gender restroom for student use at every school site, by no later than July 1, 2026.SB 760 requires identifying signage to be placed outside of all-gender restrooms, and for such restrooms to...

A Reminder that Mandatory Ethics Training for School Officials is Coming

By:Anne Collins, Adam Vasquez -

November 2023Number 39Starting January 1, 2025, officials in school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools must complete ethics training at least once every two years. Assembly Bill (AB) 2158, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2022 amends California’s Government Code to mandate ethics training for relevant educational officials, in alignment with the existing “AB 1234 Training” requirement in place since 2006 for officials in cities, ...

New California Law Prohibits Certain Book Banning and Authorizes Financial Penalties for Failure to Provide Appropriate Instructional Materials

By:Daniel McElhinney, Karina Demirchyan -

November 2023Number 36On September 25, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1078, which prohibits school boards from banning books because the books include diverse perspectives. Additionally, AB 1078 makes changes to enforcement of a school district’s duty to provide sufficient and appropriate textbooks and instructional materials. AB 1078 is effective immediately. New Book Banning StandardThe new law prevents school boards from prohibiting the use of a...

New Law Effectively Ends "Willful Defiance" School Suspensions for All Grades

By:Kyle Raney, Precious Edem -

November 2023Number 37On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 274, also known as the “Keep Kids in School” bill. Beginning July 1, 2024, SB 274 amends the Education Code to prohibit the suspension of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade from school based on willful defiance. BackgroundSB 274 is designed to keep students in school who might otherwise be suspended for lower-level behavioral conduct that constitutes “willful def...

Approval of Nation's First Religious Based Charter School Opens Door to Contentious Constitutional Question

By:Edward Sklar, Eric Barba -

August 2023Number 31On June 5, 2023, an Oklahoma charter school authorizer approved the nation’s first religious charter school.  The decision is certain to ignite litigation and open the possibility that higher courts may explore whether religious schools may be state sanctioned and publicly funded.BackgroundThe Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board (the Board) is a statutorily created public entity with authority to authorize and sponsor Oklahoma statewide virtual chart...

SB 114: New Laws Impacting Charter Schools - More Extensions and Clarification on Application of Standard of Review for Charter Petition Appeals

By:Erin Hamor, Courtney de Groof -

August 2023Number 27On July 10, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill, Senate Bill (SB) 114 (Trailer Bill), which, among other things, clarifies and revises provisions of the Charter Schools Act (Act).  Notably, the Trailer Bill: (1) provides an automatic one-year extension for certain charter terms; (2) extends the nonclassroom-based moratorium through January 1, 2026; and (3) clarifies application of the standard of review for appeals of charter p...

Superior Court Reverses State Board of Education's Action Overturning Charter Denials; Clarifies Review Standard for Appeals

By:Erin Hamor, Angelique Cramer -

July 2023Number 25A recent California Superior Court ruling reinforces the deference granted to local educational agencies under Assembly Bill (AB) 1505 in determining whether to grant or deny charter petitions.  On June 29, 2023, the Sacramento Superior Court ruled that the State Board of Education (State Board) abused its discretion in reversing the Napa Valley Unified School District’s and Napa County Board of Education’s decisions denying a petition to establish Mayacamas...

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.