Response to Argonaut Article "Interview: Schoolyard Scuffles" (with LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer)

September 17, 2015

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Read CCSA's response to Argonaut article,"Interview: Schoolyard Scuffles" with LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer.

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) continues to be disappointingly astounded by LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer's comments blaming it and charter schools for the failures of the school district to comply with its obligations under Proposition 39. His comments only add to and fuel the "enormous and disproportionate injury" he decries, and for which he blames CCSA and charter schools.

While Mr. Zimmer always alludes to the burdens placed on the school district to comply with Proposition 39, he rarely recognize the fact that LAUSD was able to pass nearly $9 billion in school facility bonds in 2004 and 2005 only as a result of the lowering of the required voting majority under the law. Moreover, as recently as 2008, LAUSD passed a $7 billion bond measure that included $450 million to help address charter school facility needs. Sadly, the program has come to a stand still solely attributable to the school district. Despite the benefits of Proposition 39 that have accrued to its facility construction program, LAUSD only began meeting its legal obligations to offer district facilities to charter students and schools after CCSA sued it for violating a settlement agreement committing to do so in 2010. The California Supreme Court has even confirmed LAUSD's flagrant violation of its legal obligations under Proposition 39 to charter students and schools.

CCSA is guilty of many things. Guilty of holding all charter public schools to the highest standards of accountability, unequivocally advocating that students have equitable facilities as mandated by voters who passed Proposition 39 and by parents who select charters as an option for their children, and finally of holding elected school board officials accountable when they do not serve or consider the needs of all public school students for whom they are responsible, then render us guilty as charged.

Our families, students and schools look to us to serve as exemplary models of leadership. Let us all step up to the plate to find a workable solution where co-locations, school bonds, adhering to the law under Proposition 39 and other measures are viable options and not detrimental roadblocks to educational opportunity. CCSA has proactively and tirelessly attempted to work in unified partnership with LAUSD to create solutions that serve families. As the LAUSD Board President, Mr. Zimmer should strive to be constructive and offer solutions for all of the school district's public school students, including those attending charter public schools.

Ricardo Soto,
Senior Vice President, Legal Advocacy, and General Counsel
California Charter Schools Association