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:


  • 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


  • 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
Sacramento, San Diego
Fabiola M. Rivera Senior Counsel
James  Sanchez Senior Counsel
Fresno, Monterey
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield
Fresno, Monterey
Nicholas J. Clair Senior Counsel
Travis E. Cochran Senior Counsel
Sacramento, Monterey
Los Angeles, San Diego

California Supreme Court Rejects Expansion of the Prevailing Wages Requirement

By:Arne Sandberg, Fabiola Rivera -

SeptemberNumber 24On August 16, 2021, the California Supreme Court rejected arguments in two cases that sought to expand the definition of “public works” under the prevailing wage statutory scheme, which was designed to enforce minimum wages on construction or maintenance projects paid with public funds. Both opinions are authored by Justice Carol Corrigan and reference each other, with Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar dissenting in both.In one case, the ...

AB 130 Significantly Impacts Charter Schools: Charter Term and Nonclassroom-based Moratorium Extensions Headline Key Updates

By:Edward Sklar, Erin Hamor -

August 2021Number 18Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law the 2021-2022 Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 130 (Trailer Bill), imposing critical changes impacting charter schools and their authorizers. Notably, the Trailer Bill automatically extends the term of most charter petitions by two years. The Trailer Bill also extends the moratorium on nonclassroom-based charter schools by three years, to January 1, 2025.Charter Term ExtensionsAll charter petitions that wou...

Office of Public School Construction Addresses Prohibition of Piggyback Contracting for Permanent Modular Buildings

By:Arne Sandberg, Alyse Pacheco Nichols -

July 2021Number 17On July 7, 2021, the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) issued a mass email to all California school districts and county offices of education reiterating that the Public Contract Code (PCC) does not allow a school district "to acquire factory-built modular building components via piggyback contracting." "Piggyback contracting" is a procurement method for "personal property" that allows a school district to avoid competitive bidding when another public agency has a...

New Grant Funding for HVAC and Plumbing Improvements to K-12 Schools

By:Claudia Weaver, Deepika Thompson -

March 2021Number 6Signed by Gavin Newsom in September 2020, Assembly Bill 841 (AB 841) created the “School Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program” (the SEES Program) which, in turn, created two new grant programs intended to fund specific air quality, ventilation, energy efficiency, plumbing, and water efficiency improvements.Funded by electric and gas companies, the SEES Program establishes: (1) the School Reopening Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program (S...

CDPH Guidance for Schools Creates Challenges and New Reopening Criteria

By:Michelle Cannon, Joshua Whiteside -

February 2021Number 3On January 14, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance (the Guidance) for all of California's local educational agencies (LEAs), including county offices of education, school districts, charter schools, and private schools, including nonpublic and nonsectarian schools. The Guidance includes new guidelines affecting how LEAs should proceed with providing in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, redefines wha...

Bid Thresholds Raised for 2021

By:Ruth Mendyk, Shawn VanWagenen -

December 2020Number 85According to the California Department of Education Office of Financial Accountability and Information Services, pursuant to Public Contract Code section 20111(a), the bid threshold for K-12 school districts' purchases of equipment, materials, supplies and services (except construction services) has been adjusted to $96,700, effective January 1, 2021. The notice may be viewed here.The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office is expected to announce a similar adj...

New Appellate Court Case Reaffirms that School District's Imposition of Developer Fees is Tied to the General Type of Construction, not the Particular Project

By:Harold Freiman, Peter Sumulong -

November 2020Number 82In a recent ruling, a California appellate court upheld a school district's imposition of developer fees on a residential project oriented towards college students, rejecting the developer's argument that the fees were improper because the project would allegedly generate no district students. (AMCAL Chico LLC v. Chico Unified School District (November 5, 2020) __ Cal.App.5th. _____ ). The Court borrowed heavily from the decision in Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc....

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.