Bullis drops plans for Mountain View this fall

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Bullis Charter School announced yesterday that it would not expand into the Mountain View Whisman School District this fall as planned, claiming that the district had changed Bullis’ plans “intentionally to hinder our success.”

Bullis has had a tense, litigious relationship with the Los Altos school district since its founding. The school submitted a petition to expand into the Mountain View Whisman district in October.

In December, the district accepted the petition but added conditions that Bullis says are unreasonable and contrary to state law.

Specifically, the district insisted that Bullis guarantee that it enroll the same percentage of low-income students as the average district school.

“We understand that enrolling a diverse student body requires active engagement to target families who may not be aware of all of their public school options, may not speak English fluently or may be misinformed about what charter schools are and their requirement to serve all students,” Bullis Mountain View’s head of school Jennifer Anderson-Rosse said in a statement. “But state law prohibits us from imposing quotas for certain student subgroups.”

She noted that Bullis plans to offer priority enrollment to students who receive free-and-reduced lunch and wants to set an enrollment target for those students.

Like other charter schools in California, Bullis has to remain open to all students and admit them through a lottery system if there is more demand than availability, Anderson-Rosse said.

Preference for siblings of other students

The district also doesn’t want to give siblings preference for admission, which Bullis officials said was an attempt to “separate families and undermine the success of BMV (Bullis Mountain View).”

“Most importantly, we believe in keeping families together, so our first preference in our petition is for siblings,” Anderson-Rosse said. “If the district had engaged us in any conversation about these conditions, rather than posting them several days before the board meeting with no engagement, we surely could have worked toward a resolution that would have been a win-win for everyone.”

Lastly, the district mandated that Bullis follow the district’s internal assessment process and curriculum, rather than letting the charter school “innovate” on district models, Anderson-Rosse said.

The district required that Bullis outperform each student subgroup each year by 5% while refusing to allow Bullis to join the assessment committee, according to Bullis.

“Students and teachers would have been required to outperform their peers in the district but were in the dark about what was being assessed,” Anderson-Rosse said. “Most adults would be distraught if they were required to sit for a test that assessed mastery of something neither they nor their teachers could identify.”

‘Complete shock’

The district and Bullis had planned to meet today (March 22). District officials didn’t know that Bullis was postponing its plans until yesterday afternoon and said it came as a “complete shock.”

“We had an all-day meeting planned for tomorrow, which both parties agreed to attend, that we hoped would be the first of many positive steps to ensure BMV could move forward to open a quality school for all of our students,” district spokeswoman Shelly Hausman told the Post.

Hausman said the district would continue to “work with” Bullis Mountain View to make sure they’re prepared for a successful opening, while holding Bullis to the parameters consistent with their charter position and the district’s approval.

4 Comments

  1. The unspoken consequence of the district’s attempt to require an EXACT match to the AVERAGE district school income diversity is where the violation of the law lies. So many people don’t understand this. If they have 160 slots, they have to let them all be filled. If they need to have exactly 1/3 low income, then if they can only get 40 low income kids to apply and fit into slots by grade level, then the consequence would mean they would have to only take 80 more students and so leave 40 slots vacant.

    The district is not allowed to restrict enrollment like this, regardless of their reasoning. This is particularly bad when you consider that Mountain View Whisman schools vary widely. Some have as few as 8% low income but one has 88% low income. They don’t do a very good job of matching the average themselves, at any school. In fact, not one single school comes within 5 percentage points of the average 1/3 low income students.

    Basically, the district overplayed their hand. They tried seriously to force the charter school to violate state law, and they denied it.

    • David, perfect analysis. Yet the district got exactly what they wanted – no charter school. Corks are damaging their boardroom ceiling.
      The name of the district game is delay, delay, delay. BMV should have stated at their charter approval hearing that since the district did not accept the charter as proposed that it is a rejection of their charter and appealable to the County BOE. No school would sign up to the district’s changes as it is not possible to control your enrollment/admissions with a random lottery. The bouncing lottery ball has no agenda.

  2. David, perfect analysis. Yet the district got exactly what they wanted – no charter school. Corks are damaging their boardroom ceiling.
    The name of the district game is delay, delay, delay. BMV should have stated at their charter approval hearing that since the district did not accept the charter as proposed that it is a rejection of their charter and appealable to the County BOE. No school would sign up to the district’s changes as it is not possible to control your enrollment/admissions with a random lottery. The bouncing lottery ball has no agenda.

  3. Thank goodness this sham of a school was denied. Here’s hoping the new California laws make it impossible for it to expand and take over District resources more than they already have.

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