School district business is our expertise. With more than 30 attorneys dedicated to advising public agencies on the complex array of issues encountered while conducting their operations, Lozano Smith is prepared to share our knowledge gained in preparing thousands of contracts and helping school districts build hundreds of facilities. The business of schools is vast - from daily vendor contracts, to budgeting and revenue generation, our attorneys routinely advise on and advocate for school districts. Equally, Lozano Smith provides counsel and support on all aspects of real property and facilities issues. When a novel issue presents itself, we work closely with our clients to develop creative, efficient and effective solutions. And, if a contract is challenged or a construction project goes awry, our litigation team has a proven track record of success.

Lozano Smith Facilities and Business Practice Group specializes in:

Business

  • Budgeting Issues, Funding Disputes & Audit Appeals
  • Procurement of Supplies and Services
  • Contract Development and Review
  • Energy Issues
  • Public Finance including Bond Counsel Services
  • Technology Procurement and Contracting

Facilities

  • Bidding, Bid Challenges and Alternative Project Delivery
  • Selecting and Contracting with Construction Professionals
  • Construction Contract Development and Administration
  • Prevailing Wage and Project Labor Agreements
  • Construction Advice & Litigation
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
  • Developer Fees and School Facilities Mitigation
  • Prop. 39 Procurement and Contracting
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • State Funding and the School Facilities Program
  • Joint Facilities Use

Real Property

  • Land Acquisition - Purchase and Exchange
  • Due Diligence Issues including CDE Approval and Resolution of Title Exceptions
  • Eminent Domain
  • Land Use and Zoning Issues
  • Leases, Easements and Other Property Interests
  • Charter School Facilities and Prop. 39 Offers
  • Surplus Property Disposition
Andrew  Fausto Associate
Los Angeles, Fresno afausto@lozanosmith.com
Sacramento, San Diego dmaruccia@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield jbehrens@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Monterey mlerner@lozanosmith.com
Nicholas J. Clair Senior Counsel
Los Angeles, San Diego tsims@lozanosmith.com

Legislature Addresses Affordable Workforce Housing on School District and County Office of Education Property

By:Harold Freiman -

November 2022Number 53On September 28, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2295, which allows a school district or county office of education (local educational agency or LEA) that meets certain criteria to utilize its surplus property to provide affordable housing to its employees.  AB 2295 seeks to streamline the process for an LEA to utilize its surplus property for workforce housing without having to go through cumbersome zoning and surplus property processes. ...

AB 185 Authorizes Alternative Design-Build Construction for K-12 School Districts

By:Arne Sandberg, Kevin Serrano -

October 2022Number 46Governor Newsom signed the Education Omnibus Trailer Bill (AB 185) on September 27, 2022, which included authorization for K-12 school districts to use “alternative design-build” contracts for public works projects.  This variation on an existing delivery method provides school districts with another option for public works contracting.Existing Design-Build StatutesGenerally, in lieu of typical competitive bidding that involves two contracts (one for the ...

Legislature Corrects Error Regarding Requirements for Schools' Adoption of Developer Fee Justification Studies

By:Harold Freiman, William Charley -

September 2022Number 44On July 19, 2022, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2536 into law.  AB 2536 includes a provision to correct a drafting error in AB 602 from the prior legislative year that had sparked confusion for school districts as to the applicability of new requirements for local educational agencies conducting developer fee studies. AB 2536 will take effect on January 1, 2023 and will allow school districts to revert to the procedures for noticing and adopting de...

Ninth Circuit Holds Blocking Public from Officials' Social Media Accounts May Violate First Amendment

By:Anne Collins, Davis Adams -

August 2022Number 40New case law suggests social media accounts created by public officials may be considered public forums subject to constitutional scrutiny under the First Amendment.  In the recently decided case, Garnier v. O’Connor-Ratcliff (9th Cir. 2022, Nos. 21-55118, 2155157) __F.4th __ [2022 WL 2963453], the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals discusses these principles, holding that it is a violation of the First Amendment for a public official to block members of the public ...

Piggyback Contracts for Modular Components Are Ineligible for State Funding

By:Arne Sandberg, Andrea Ortega -

July 2022Number 33Last month, the State Allocation Board (SAB) affirmed its position that school districts and county offices of education must competitively bid contracts to acquire modular building components for installation on a permanent foundation, and that “piggybacking” may not be used.  Importantly, SAB has determined that such piggyback contracts will not qualify for funding from SAB-administered programs if submitted after August 21, 2022.  However, questions ...

Governor Newsom's Executive Order Regarding Economic Sanctions on Russia Creates Confusion for Local Agencies

By:Kelly Rem, Chadrick Punch -

June 2022Number 25On March 4, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-6-22 in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The Order instructs all agencies and departments that are subject to the Governor's authority to review their investments and contracts to ensure compliance with economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the US government or the State of California. This includes refraining from completing new investments and financial transactions with Russian institutions or c...

Attorney General Addresses Who May Attend Closed Session Under the Brown Act

By:Ryan Tung, Laurie Avedisian-Favini -

June 2022Number 26On May 26, 2022, the California Attorney General (AG) issued Opinion No. 21-1102, addressing certain aspects of "closed session" attendance under the Ralph M. Brown Act. Specifically, the AG opined:(1) Legislative support staff of an individual city councilmember generally may not attend closed sessions unless the staff member has an "official or essential role" to play;(2) City councilmembers may not share information obtained in closed session with their individual suppor...

Representative Cases

Lozano Smith was part of the team representing Los Angeles Unified School District in Williams v. State of California, a massive statewide class action involving alleged conditions in public schools including alleged inequalities in school facilities, instructional materials and teachers, particularly at underperforming schools that were already the subject of various state and federal categorical programs.
Clovis Unified School District v. Chiang (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 794. Assisted eleven school districts with invalidating audits of several state mandated cost reimbursement claims worth more than $30 million, based upon the use of invalid, underground auditing documentation rule by the State Controller’s Office. The firm was later able to receive an award of $240,000 from the superior court for fees and costs incurred in the litigation efforts, largely offsetting the school districts’ legal costs in the case.
Oak Grove Elementary School District v. George W. Putris, as Tax Collector for the County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 114CV261473. Represented the District in a complex matter related to a parcel tax authorized by the District's Board and approved by voters in 1991. The District returned to the voters every four years to re-obtain approval to increase the appropriations limit to spend tax revenues, but uncertainty loomed in 2014 regarding whether the District still had authority to collect taxes in 2014 after not needing to increase the annual appropriations limit that same year. The County Tax Collector was unclear whether it still had the authority to collect the taxes, therefore leading to Lozano Smith filing a lawsuit on behalf of the District seeking a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the County Tax Collector to collect parcel taxes. The lawsuit resulted in a stipulated judgment issuing a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the Tax Collector to collect the parcel tax.
Morgan Hill Unified School District v. Minter & Fahy Construction Company, Inc. et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. CV772368 (2002-2003). As part of a three week jury trial, successfully represented the school district against contractor and pipe manufacturer arising from underground fuel storage tank that leaked, and obtained judgment in excess of $2 million including interest and attorney’s fees. *Case handled by a current Lozano Smith attorney prior to their employment at Lozano Smith.
Modtech Holdings v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District. On two separate elementary school projects totaling $4 million, the District withheld substantial sums to cover damages caused the contractor. One project under the control of the contractor had a fire, with the contractor refusing to compensate the District. The other project suffered construction deficiencies in the stucco and roof. The contractor sued for improper withholding and the District cross-complained for additional damages, resulting in a $1 million dispute. After discovery and expert investigation revealed additional claims for the District, the case resolved very favorably for the District a few months short of trial.
R. Baker, Inc. v. Coast Unified School District. A school district was subject to multi-million dollar design, delay and defect claims related to construction of a new elementary school located in the Coastal Zone. The project also suffered from an inadequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), thus causing the school district to be fined in excess of $300,000. The litigation settled favorably for the District at mediation.
Mountain Cascade v. Santa Clara Valley Water District. The District entered a contract with the plaintiff to install a recycled water pipeline. As part of the original plans and specifications, the contract also called for the additional installation of fiber optic conduits. However, after award the District deleted the fiber optic work from the project since the bid on that line item was excessive. The District then added back a small portion of the fiber optic work that was within the budget. The contractor sued the District for lost profits based on the deleted work. Our attorney won summary judgment for the District based on the broad right to add and delete work, and successfully defended the decision on appeal.
Pajaro Valley USD v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., et al. Due to a combination of construction and architectural roof design defects, a new district school was infected with mold throughout its buildings. Lozano Smith attorneys successfully represented the school district in recovering in excess of $3 million for remedial efforts and new construction from litigation prosecuted against the general contractor, architect, and insurer on the district insurance risk policy.
Teichert Construction v. City of Stockton, et al. During a $15 million dual grade separation project, the contractor and one of its subcontractors submitted claims of more than $3 million based on delay. Despite many issues of delay caused by utilities and railroad companies, the case settled favorably at pre-discovery mediation for under $1 million despite a significant number of delay days for which the City had to take responsibility.
Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262. Lozano Smith 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.