Charter school resource center limits in line with democratic principles, supporters argue

By John Breslin | Aug 29, 2017

SACRAMENTO — Supporters of restrictions on charter school resource centers said they believe the limits are in line with democratic principles that elected representatives should retain control of operations in their districts.

Charter schools across the state are considering their options following an appeals court ruling that bars them from operating resource centers outside of the district where they are authorized and within the county.

Some charter school operators may be planning to shutter premises, others have received one-year waivers from the State Education Board and at least one has been granted a countywide charter allowing it to operate its centers in various school districts.

Resource centers are satellite offices that open for limited hours and cater to students who work mainly from home. They are sites where students can pick up educational materials and receive teaching and other instructions. While centers will not be allowed to operate within the county outside of the district where the charter school is authorized, they will operate in adjacent counties.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals, in Anderson Union High District vs. Shasta Secondary Home School (later renamed Shasta Charter School), ruled late last year that the independent educator was illegally operating a resource center in a school district where it had not received a charter.

The California Supreme Court declined to review the decision, thereby allowing it to stand.

Troy Flint, communications manager with the California School Boards Association (CBSA), said his organization supported the Anderson Union High School District because its position was justified by the California Constitution and the Charter Schools Act of 1992 (CSA).

These "establish that the existence of charter schools in California is only constitutional insofar as those schools comply with the principle of local control specified in the CSA," Flint told the Northern California Record.

"Essentially, our position upholds the democratic principle that the voters’ elected representatives exercise oversight of operations at school locations approved by the authorizing board," he said.

The CSA establishes that the charter petition is to be considered in conjunction with the educational programs offered within the authorizing district, Fint said.

More generally, Flint said the CSBA, which represents elected officials governing school districts, has a goal "to help create conditions that establish high-quality, equitable education for all of the state’s 6.2 million public schools students."

"Part of that process involves letting those who understand their communities best make decisions that are responsive to their local needs – that’s why we supported Anderson Union High School District," Flint said. "The decision in favor of Anderson Union will not prevent any California student from attending a local public school or a local charter school, of obtaining an interdistrict transfer or even of attending a private school."

But charter school proponents argue the decision disproportionately affects minority and lower income students.

Close to 40,000 students attend the "non-classroom" centers in districts outside of the one where the school is chartered.  The ruling affects 229 centers across the state and 2,000 employees, according to the California Charter School Association.

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