The Los Angeles Unified School District filed papers with the state Supreme Court this week opposing a claim by charter schools that the district is hogging space on campuses, in violation of a voter-approved initiative.
“Charter schools receive the poor facilities," said Ricardo Soto, an attorney with the California Charter Schools Association, which filed the appeal. “They don’t get the cream of crop - to the extent that it exists at the school district."
The case involves co-location – when a charter and traditional public school share a school site. The situation was created by Proposition 39, approved by California voters in 2000. It requires districts to allow charters to operate on traditional school grounds. About 77 charters currently share space with traditional L.A. Unified schools.
David Huff, an attorney representing L.A. Unified, said like with any roommate, co-habitation can be tough.
“And the reason it’s tough is because these public school campuses, when they were built 40, 60, 80, 100 years ago, they weren’t designed to accommodate two separately operating programs on one campus," said Huff.
There's only one principal’s office, one kitchen, one library.
“I mean would they prefer not to have co-location?" said Huff. "I think both schools – the charter school and the public school – would prefer not to be co-located. But nevertheless they are able to operate.”
L.A. Unified gives charters a certain number of classrooms based on how many students they have.
The charters want to force the district to factor in specialized rooms, too. If the traditional public school has a library, the charter should also get an extra room.
L.A. Unified said that’s not necessary. Huff said those additional rooms on campuses – computer labs and reading centers - are already being shared.
The two sides have been fighting for years. The charters filed a lawsuit and won. The district appealed and won.
Now the charters have taken the case to the state Supreme Court. It is expected to hear arguments next year.