from Leagle.com | Associate Justice Maria P. Rivera writing the opinion
Edited | [entire opinion]
Filed July 26, 2010. Certified for Publication
CALIFORNIA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION et al., Petitioners and Appellants,
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Respondent;
ASPIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, INC., Real Party in Interest and Respondent.
Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Four.
Charter schools are public schools that operate independently from, but with oversight by, the school districts or county boards of education that approve their charters. Before 2002, charter schools operated without geographic restrictions; a school chartered in Los Angeles could operate "satellite" campuses as far away as Palo Alto or Mendocino.[ 1 ] In 2002, after it came to light that a school chartered in Fresno but operating satellites in far-flung locations had accumulated $1.3 million in debt and was involved in other irregularities,[ 2 ] the Legislature amended the Charter Schools Act of 1992 (Ed. Code,[ 3 ] § 47600 et seq.) (CSA) to require that charter schools be located within the districts or counties where they are chartered (see, e.g., §§ 47605, subd. (a)(1), 47605.1). The Legislature also added section 47605.8. Subdivision (a) authorized the State Board of Education (the State Board) to approve statewide charters that would allow a school to operate without the geographic restrictions. Subdivision (b), however, provided that the State Board could not approve a statewide charter unless it first made a finding that "the proposed state charter school will provide instructional services of statewide benefit that cannot be provided by a charter school operating in only one school district, or only in one county."
- In 2007 the State Board approved a statewide charter for Aspire Public Schools, Inc. (Aspire).
- The California School Boards Association (CSBA) and others filed an action challenging this approval, contending that the State Board failed to determine and make a finding that Aspire's instructional services of a statewide benefit could not be provided through individual charters from local school districts.
- The State Board and Aspire demurred. They contended, and the trial court ruled, that section 47605.8, subdivision (b) requires the State Board to find the proposed charter school will provide "instructional services of statewide benefit," but does not require the Board to find, in addition, that the statewide benefit could not be provided through locally approved charters.
- We conclude that such a finding is required and, accordingly, we reverse.
- The petition and complaint contains two other causes of action seeking mandamus. Petitioners allege:
- (1) the State Board has failed and refused to enforce the conditions of approval imposed on Aspire's charter and should be compelled to do so; and
- (2) the State Board used policies and procedures in connection with its consideration of statewide charter petitions that have not been adopted in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act (Gov. Code, § 11340 et seq.) (APA) and, therefore, the State Board should be compelled to set aside its approval of Aspire's charter.
- The trial court sustained demurrers to these causes of action. We reverse as to these claims as well.
CONCLUSION AND DISPOSITION
The demurrers to the first three causes of action should not have been sustained. Accordingly, we reverse as to those causes of action and also as to the fourth and fifth causes of action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief predicated on the same allegations.
The judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded.