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.

Ninth Circuit Holds that "Specific Learning Disability" Evaluation and IEP Satisfied FAPE for Dyslexic Student

By:Mark Waterman, Kyle Raney, Selina Ayala-Patlán -

February 2022Number 10In Crofts v. Issaquah School District No. 411 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2022, No. 19-35473)   F.4th   , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a school district properly assessed a student for dyslexia when it conducted an evaluation for a “specific learning disability,” as provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court said that, under the circumstances, no formal evaluation for dyslexia was r...

Student Not Entitled to Receive Medical ABA Therapy on Campus from Private Provider

By:Sarah Garcia, Roxana Khan, Rebecca Seldin -

February 2022Number 8Although a seven-year-old boy with autism had an established medical need for 40 hours per week of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, his school district properly denied his private provider from serving him on the public school campus during the school day, according to the December 27, 2021 decision from the United States District Court, Central District of California, in O.A. vs Orcutt Union School District (C.D.Cal. Dec. 27, 2021, 2:20-cv-00087-RGK-MAA).The Dist...

Superior Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging the State's Face Mask Mandate in California K-12 Schools

By:Sloan Simmons -

February 2022Number 7On November 12, 2021, San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland ended a lawsuit filed against Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and other California state health officials. The lawsuit was filed by two organizations, Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged nine causes of action and challenged, among other things, the CDPH’s guidelines and mandate for face coverings in K-12 ...

Legal Challenges to Student Vaccine Mandates Produce Varying Results

By:Sloan Simmons, Alyssa Bivins -

January 2022Number 5Vaccine mandates enacted by and affecting local education agencies have faced various legal challenges, with differing outcomes. Divergent court rulings regarding student vaccine mandates have been issued, often within days of rulings regarding mask mandates, resulting in a changing and sometimes confusing legal landscape. This Client News Brief addresses the legal challenges to student vaccine mandates.LAUSD Student Vaccine Mandate – Los Angeles Superior Court Rulin...

Parentally-Placed Private School Students Are Not Entitled to IEP Unless They Request One

By:Sarah Garcia, Roxana Khan, Karina Demirchyan -

January 2022 Number 4 In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that special education students who have been parentally-placed in private school are not entitled to an individualized education plan (IEP) offer from their public school district, unless they request one. (Capistrano Unified School District v. B.W. (9th Cir. Dec. 30, 2021, Nos. 20-55961, 20-55978)     F.4th    .) Although practical reasons rem...

ADA Claim Arising from Alleged Denial of FAPE Requires Exhaustion of Administrative Process

By:Jennifer Baldassari, Bailey Hughes -

January 2022Number 2The recent en banc opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, D.D. v. Los Angeles Unified School District (9th Cir. 2021) 18 F.4th 1043, addresses the issue of whether a plaintiff asserting a claim in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must first pursue available administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Applying the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Fry v. Napolean Cmty. ...

Preparing for the New Year: Student Laws for 2022

By:Ruth Mendyk -

December 2021Number 48While COVID-19 dominated the focus of new rules and protocols during 2021, the California Legislature enacted several other new laws that school districts must be ready to put in place for 2022. Following is a quick summary of these new laws, along with links to the related Client New Briefs for more details.Senate Bill 14 – Students shall be excused from school when the absence is for the benefit of the student’s mental or behavioral health. This portion of ...

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.