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
Sacramento, San Diego dmaruccia@lozanosmith.com
Fabiola M. Rivera Senior Counsel
James  Sanchez Senior Counsel
Fresno, Monterey jsanchez@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield jbehrens@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Monterey mlerner@lozanosmith.com
Nicholas J. Clair Senior Counsel
Travis E. Cochran Senior Counsel
Sacramento, Monterey tcochran@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, San Diego tsims@lozanosmith.com

Appellate Court Clarifies What School Districts May Charge Charter Schools for Facilities

By:Edward Sklar, Everett McLean II -

November 2021Number 41The California Court of Appeal has held that school districts must exclude maintenance and operations costs from their calculations when determining the pro rata fees of a charter school that pays for its own maintenance and operations. (Mt. Diablo Unified School District v. Clayton Valley Charter High School (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 1004.) “Pro rata fees” are the “rent” a charter school pays to a school district for the charter school’s use of...

Deadline Approaching to Begin Process to Repatriate Collections of Native American Remains and Cultural Items

By:Michelle Cannon, Jennifer Thompson -

November 2021Number 40Assembly Bill (AB) 275 was passed and signed by Governor Newsom on September 25, 2020. AB 275 strengthens existing law that requires state-funded institutions, including cities, counties, school districts, higher educational institutions, and museums (“agencies”), to repatriate collections of Native American human remains and artifacts in their possession or under their control to culturally affiliated California Native American tribes. AB 275 became law on J...

New Legislation Will Impact Student Health

By:Desiree Serrano -

November 2021Number 37Three new bills signed by Governor Newsom impact student health including requiring the development of type 1 diabetes information to be made available to parents or guardians, making menstrual products more accessible in public school restrooms, and informing students on the best practices for returning to exercise and physical activity after displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19.Senate Bill 97 – Pupil Health: Type 1 Diabetes Information: Parent ...

Federal Procurement Requirements Apply When Using ESSER Funds for Construction Projects

By:Kelly Rem, Brooke Bolton Tiutan -

September 2021Number 25As of March 2021, the federal government has authorized three rounds of COVID relief grant funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund (i.e., ESSER I, enacted on March 27, 2020; ESSER II, enacted on December 27, 2020; and ESSER III, enacted on March 11, 2021). Local educational agencies (LEAs) have until September 30, 2024, to spend ESSER III funds. With the flood of funds that have come in since March 2020, questions have arisen re...

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...

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.