Articles Posted in Education Law

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The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) notified Cornelius Oluseyi Ogunsalu that it had found probable cause to recommend the suspension of his preliminary teaching credentials for 21 days and that Ogunsalu's application for a clear credential would be granted only upon completion of the suspension. Ogunsalu requested a continuance of the administrative hearing before the Commission. An administrative law judge (ALJ) of the OAH denied the continuance on the ground Ogunsalu had not shown good cause for it. Ogunsalu was a vexatious litigant, and sought to challenge the denial of the continuance request by filing a petition for writ of mandate with the superior court. Ogunsalu then requested permission from the Court of Appeal to file a petition for a writ directing the superior court to vacate its order denying his request to file the petition for writ of mandate in that court. In the proposed filing, he contended that the superior court had abused its discretion by relying on his status as a vexatious litigant to deny his request to file the petition for writ of mandate, because he was a "defendant" in the administrative hearing before the Commission and sought to "appeal" a ruling against him in that proceeding. The Court of Appeal concluded that the vexatious litigant prefiling requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 391.7 applied to a self-represented litigant, previously declared a vexatious litigant, who filed a writ of mandate proceeding in the superior court to challenge the denial of his request to continue an administrative proceeding where the vexatious litigant was the respondent in the administrative proceeding. Accordingly, the superior court correctly subjected the vexatious litigant to the prefiling requirements of section 391.7. Because subsequent events have rendered effective relief impossible, the petition was dismissed as moot. View "Ogunsalu v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Education Code section 17406 authorizes school districts to use lease-leaseback agreements for construction or improvement of school facilities: the school district leases its own real property to a contractor for a nominal amount, and the contractor agrees to construct or improve school facilities on the property and lease the property and improvements back to the district. At the end of the lease-leaseback agreement, title to the project vests in the school district. California Taxpayers Network brought a reverse validation action (Code Civ. Proc. 863), challenging a lease-leaseback agreement between Mount Diablo School District and Taber Construction, alleging that the Education Code requires “genuine lease-leaseback agreements,” which “provide for financing of the school facility project over time,” but defendants’ lease-leaseback contracts were “sham leases”; that the contracts were illegal because a public bidding process is required for school construction projects; and that Taber provided professional preconstruction services to the District regarding the project before entering the lease-leaseback contracts. The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of claims "that attempt to engraft requirements on the transaction" that are not part of the Education Code. The court reversed in part, holding that the plaintiff did state a conflict of interest claim against Taber sufficient to withstand a demurrer. View "California Taxpayers Action Network v. Taber Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court's exercise of jurisdiction to hear a petition declaring A.N. a habitual truant under Education Code, 48262, concluding that 26 unexcused absences during the first half of the school year exceeded the four-truancy threshold that vests jurisdiction in the juvenile court. The Court of Appeals held that the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) process is not a prerequisite to juvenile court intervention, explaining that it is one of several parallel tracks that can lead to a habitual truant's adjudication as a ward of the court. Here, neither school officials nor the district attorney short-circuited that process. In the alternative, the Court of Appeals rejected the claim that a fourth truancy report must issue before a juvenile court can assert jurisdiction over a habitual truant. View "In re A.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that the "trigger petition" at issue in this case satisfied the parent signature requirement. The petition was submitted pursuant to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which mandated that states establish accountability systems, requiring that all schools make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). California later enacted the Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 (the Act) which allowed parents of children in poor-performing schools to trigger a change in the governance of those schools. In early 2015, parents of students enrolled at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim submitted such a petition under the Act to the Anaheim City School District. Petitioners), filed a petition for a writ of mandate against Anaheim City School District and Anaheim City School District Board of Education (together, the District). The petition sought the issuance of a writ commanding the District to accept the trigger petition or provide legally sufficient reasons for rejecting it. Following a six-day bench trial, the court found the District’s reasons for rejecting the trigger petition invalid and granted the petition for a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal affirmed the district court, finding: (1) the Act applied to Palm Lane Elementary School; (2) substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the trigger petition met the requirements under the Act and Regulations section 4804; (3) insufficient evidence showed that the entity called Ed Reform Now constituted an agency or organization that supported the trigger petition through direct financial assistance or in-kind contributions of staff and volunteers, so as to require that its name appear on the front page of the trigger petition within the meaning of Regulations section 4802, subdivision (a)(1) and (10); and (4) Petitioners exhausted their administrative remedies by submitting the trigger petition to the District in January 2015, so they were not required to resubmit a revised petition to the District before seeking writ relief. View "Ochoa v. Anaheim City Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether Gateway Community Charters (Gateway), a nonprofit public benefit corporation that operated charter schools, was an “other municipal corporation” for purposes of Labor Code section 220, subdivision (b), thereby exempting it from assessment of waiting time penalties described in section 203. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded it was not; therefore, it affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Gateway Community Charters v. Spiess" on Justia Law

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After the trial court ruled on a petition for writ of administrative mandamus pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, Golden Day appealed the trial court's holding regarding certain findings of the ALJ, which entitled the Department to recoup more than $3 million. The Department cross-appealed, contending that the trial court erroneously overturned one of the ALJ's findings. The court concluded that the Department was permitted under Education Code section 8448, subdivision (h) to conduct its own contract performance audit despite having accepted and closed Golden Day's independent financial and compliance audits; substantial evidence supports the findings of the ALJ and the trial court that the Department was allowed to recoup (i) costs for commingling eligible and noneligible students, (ii) certain payroll costs for employees who also worked at a charter school on some of the same sites, and (iii) various nonreimbursable costs; and thus the court reversed as to Finding No. 5 (the ALJ's decision to uphold the disallowance of certain rental payments) and affirmed in all other respects. View "Golden Day Schools v. Office of Admininistrative Hearings" on Justia Law

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Government Code section 53094(b) authorizes “the governing board of a school district” to “render a city or county zoning ordinance inapplicable to a proposed use of property by the school district,” under certain circumstances. The Santa Clara County Board of Education approved a resolution exempting from local zoning ordinances property to be used by Rocketship Education for a charter school. The San Jose Unified School District argued that county boards of education have no authority to issue section 53094 zoning exemptions and successfully sought a writ of mandate to set aside the resolution. The court of appeal affirmed, finding that section 53094 does not authorize county boards of education to issue zoning exemptions for charter schools. Empowering county boards to issue zoning exemptions for charter schools would not advance the purpose of section 53094—preventing local interference with the state’s sovereign activities. While county boards are authorized to issue charters and oversee charter schools, local school districts are obligated to provide facilities to charter schools. (Educ. Code, 47614(b).) The state has not tasked county boards with acquiring sites for charter schools; to the extent they do so, they are not carrying out a sovereign activity on behalf of the state. View "San Jose Unified School District v. Santa Clara County Office of Education" on Justia Law

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Federal law makes undocumented immigrants ineligible for state and local public benefits, but allows a state to “affirmatively provide[] for such eligibility” through “the enactment of a State law.” 8. U.S.C. 1621(d). Plaintiff, a California taxpayer, filed suit against the Regents, alleging that none of its policies qualifies under section 1621(d) as a "State law" making undocumented immigrants eligible for postsecondary education benefits. The trial court sustained the Regents' demurrer, concluding that the Regents' policies satisfy section 1621(d). At issue in this case is whether three California legislative “enactments” affirmatively provide “eligibility” under federal law for postsecondary education benefits to qualified undocumented immigrants who attend the University of California, even though the statutes require only the California State University and California community colleges to provide such benefits. These laws include (1) Assembly Bill No. 540 (2001-2002 Reg. Sess.) (A.B. 540), which makes qualified undocumented immigrants eligible for exemption from nonresident tuition (Stats. 2001, ch. 814, 1-2); (2) Assembly Bill No. 131 (2011-2012 Reg. Sess.) (A.B. 131), which makes qualified undocumented immigrants eligible for student financial aid programs (Stats. 2011, ch. 604, 3); and (3) Senate Bill No. 1210 (2013-2014 Reg. Sess.) (S.B. 1210), which makes qualified undocumented immigrants eligible for student loan benefits (Stats. 2014, ch. 754, 3). The court concluded that, even though the California Constitution may preclude the Legislature from actually conferring postsecondary education benefits on undocumented immigrants attending the University of California, the Legislature has made these students “eligible” for such benefits within the meaning of the federal statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "De Vries v. Regents of UC" on Justia Law

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The Department filed a petition for writs of administrative and traditional mandamus, and declaratory relief, seeking, among other things, an order compelling the Director of the Department of General Services, OAH, to set aside the order and decision issued by one of its ALJs in the matter of Parents on Behalf of Student v. Tuolumne County California Children’s Services, OAH Case No. 2012100238. The District and County, as well as the student's parents, opposed the Department's petition. The trial court affirmed the ALJ's order and decision, denying all of the Department's requests. The court agreed with the Department's contentions that the trial court erred when it summarily denied the petition for writ of administrative mandamus and failed to conduct an independent review on the petition for writs of administrative and traditional mandamus. The court concluded, however, that the trial court did not err in denying the requests for writs of mandamus and declaratory relief, and awarding attorney fees to the student. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Department of Health Care Services v. Office of Administrative Hearings" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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"John Doe" and "Jane Roe" were students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) when they began a romantic relationship. A few months after their relationship ended, Jane made a complaint to UCSD's Office of Student Conduct (OSC) that John had sexually assaulted her. The investigator produced a report indicating it was more likely than not that John digitally penetrated Jane's vagina without consent but that there was insufficient evidence to support two other claims Jane had alleged against John: (1) John had sexual intercourse with Jane without her effective consent on January 31, 2014; and (2) John retaliated against Jane at an off campus party on May 14, 2014. After a meeting with the relevant dean in which John did not take responsibility for the alleged misconduct, UCSD held a student conduct review hearing regarding Jane's complaint where a student conduct review panel (Panel) heard testimony and considered evidence. Ultimately, the Panel found that John had violated UCSD's Student Conduct Code. In addition to other sanctions, the Panel recommended John be suspended from UCSD for one quarter. After considering the Panel's recommendation, the evidence, and statements from both John and Jane, the relevant dean suspended John for an entire year in addition to prescribing other sanctions. John appealed the Panel's decision as well as the sanctions to the council of provosts, but the council found the Panel's decision supported by the evidence and the sanctions were not too excessive. In fact, the council of provosts increased the length of John's suspension by a quarter. John petitioned for a writ of mandate in the superior court, arguing he was not afforded a fair hearing, substantial evidence did not support the Panel's decision, and both the dean and the Regents of the University of California (Regents) improperly increased his punishment in response to his appealing the Panel's decision and recommended sanctions. The superior court granted the petition, agreeing with John on all grounds and entered judgement requiring the Regents to set aside their findings and the sanctions issued against John. The Regents appeal the judgment, arguing the trial court erred in granting the petition for writ of mandamus. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed that the superior court erred in rendering judgment in favor of John. The judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law