CA sued over charter school funding

March 16, 2009 12:21:48 PM PDT
The Oakland Unified School District is going to court Monday to try to convince a judge to reverse a recent decision by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell to redirect $450,000 in general fund money to charter schools.

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School district spokesman Troy Flint said the Oakland Unified board of education directed the district to file the lawsuit "with great reluctance" in response to "a unilateral decision" by O'Connell and State Administrator Vincent Matthews on March 11 to redirect the money.

Flint said the school board believes the decision carries potentially negative consequences for the school district's financial state as well as for the democratic process.

He said the school board filed the suit "only as a necessary last resort" to prevent the district from being forced to allocate funds at a time when it is unable to do so financially.

The suit alleges that the mandated allocation would exceed the amount of funding that charter schools are entitled to receive by law, and that the extra allocation made by O'Connell and Matthews is not authorized by law.

Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for O'Connell, said today that in making his decision, O'Connell was attempting to "address an historical inequity in funding for charter schools."

McLean said a parcel tax approved by Oakland voters to augment school district funding didn't include any money for charter schools.

She said the amount being redirected by O'Connell is "really modest" and only amounts to $60 per charter school student.

"It's really unfortunate that the school board is focusing on litigation instead of putting the interests of students at all public schools, including charter schools, first," McLean said.

A hearing on the matter was scheduled to start in the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch at 11 a.m. today.

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