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State Board of Education Charter Appeal Process
CSBA/ELA and San Jose Unified School District v. State Board of Education (Promise Academy) (2018) Case No. C087996 – California Court of Appeal, Third District Update
Member(s) Involved: San Jose Unified School District
Current status and/or outcome:
In 2019, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1505, which has significantly limited the scope of the State Board of Education’s (State Board) authority on charter school appeals. Under AB 1505, the State Board will only hear appeals where a district or county office of education abused its discretion. The ELA brought this case to restrict the State Board from continuing to make material changes to charter petitions presented to districts and county offices, and to force the State Board to review charter petitions as they were denied by a district or county board. AB 1505 has created these changes through a legislative, instead of judicial, avenue. As a result, the ELA and San Jose USD voluntarily dismissed their appeal.
Importance of statewide issue:
School district authorizers work to ensure charter school petitions meet statutory requirements, including providing a quality education to the students in their district. Allowing the State Board to make significant material revisions to a deficient charter petition in order to approve the petition exceeds the State Board’s authority and undermines the authority of the local educational agency and the structure of the charter petition process.
Summary of the case:
After a charter petition was denied by San Jose Unified School District and not approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Education, the State Board approved the petition on appeal. However, the petition approved by the State Board was materially different from the petition submitted to the district and the Santa Clara County Board. CSBA, its ELA, and San Jose USD filed a Writ of Mandate and Complaint with the Sacramento County Superior Court in March 2018, arguing that the State Board went beyond the appeal process contemplated by the Charter Schools Act. According to the plaintiffs, nothing in the Charter School statute or the regulations authorizes the State Board to make material revisions to the charter document in order to approve — or deny — the charter petition on appeal. The State Board is limited to consideration of a petition as denied by the governing boards. In this case, the State Board approved the charter petition in a materially different form from the petition that was presented to the district.

After conducting a hearing in June, the Superior Court denied CSBA/ELA’s Petition for Writ of Mandate, finding that Education Code section 47605 contained express language that the “establishment of charter schools should be encouraged.” The court ruled that the State Board did not violate the law by modifying the charter petition as part of its approval of the Promise Academy charter school. CSBA/ELA and San Jose USD filed an appeal of the decision on Sept. 27, 2018.