Morgan Hill files suit against County Office Of Education, 6th district to sue the County

Morgan Hill Unified files suit against the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s 2014 approval of Voices Academy Charter School has learned that on April 29th, the Morgan Hill Unified school district filed suit against the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) in the county’s superior court.  The beleaguered County Office of Education, who carries a mission of serving and supporting local school districts, has now been sued by six of the county’s local school districts over its unprecedented approval of 43 charter schools.  San Jose Unified was the first to file suit in 2013 against the office’s zoning exemption of a Rocketship school at the Tamien site.  In 2014, four downtown San Jose districts (Franklin McKinley, Evergreen, Alum Rock, and Mt. Pleasant) sued the SCCOE over its 2011 approval of 20 Rocketship charters in Santa Clara County.  San Jose Unified’s case is now on appeal; Rocketship has moved to settle their case with the other four districts by dropping their charter approvals.

Morgan Hill Unified, a small semi-rural community just a few miles south of San Jose, voted 6-1 to deny Voices Academy in September of 2014.  The Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE) voted 6-1 in November 2014 to approve the Voices charter school on appeal, even though the county staff had found that “the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition.”  Morgan Hill’s suit alleges that the board failed to follow charter law by “approving the petition to form the Voices College Boundy Language Academy without substantial evidence that the petition met all of the legal requirements for approval.”  The board’s approval of the charter was contingent on putting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place by January 1, 2015.  However, the suit alleges that since Voices charter school “failed ‘to successfully negotiate and execute the Contract by January 1, 2015″ the charter should be revoked.  Morgan Hill was also critical of Voices Academy for revising the petition after it had been denied by Morgan Hill, but before it had been submitted to the county, stating that the SCCBOE has a “duty to prohibit the charter school from revising its budget when submitting its appeal to the SCCBOE”.  Given those factors, the suit states that the “The SCCOE and SCCBOE are obligated to revoke the charter of the Voices College Bound Language Academy at Morgan Hill School”

The suit’s timing will no doubt influence the board as it moves to fill the seat of trustee Leon Beauchman who stepped down recently for mysterious reasons.  Beauchman had voted to approve almost every charter school put before the county, regardless of staff or community input.  The county will vote to appoint a replacement at next Wednesday’s May 6th board meeting.

You can download a copy of Morgan Hill’s suit here.