Rocketship’s Lawsuit settlement will have big impacts on neighboring districts

Rocketship this week announced that it would settle a lawsuit filed by 4 local San Jose school districts.  We wrote about the lawsuit and its history in a separate blog post.  New details about the settlement have emerged that a paint a different picture.

The details of the settlement were released this weekend on the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) website, and are available here.

Rocketship has not agreed to drop all 20 charters as we had previously reported.  The privately held education corporation agreed to drop only 13 of the 20 charters.  One charter had been previously dropped, but six charters will stay intact.  Those six charters are associated with the school districts who chose not to file suit against Rocketship and the SCCOE (San Jose Unified, Santa Clara Unified, Campbell Union School District, and Oak Grove School District).

The six retained charters are all scheduled to open in the next three years.  One of those charters, in Campbell Union school district, is scheduled to open this year.  The settlement agreement allows Rocketship to change the opening dates of charters, a process which would require SCCBOE approval through a material charter revision.

The settlement also prohibits Rocketship from opening new schools inside the districts that filed suit for the next 2 to 5 years.  Rocketship board documents indicate that the company intends to add 11 new schools in the bay area, growing to more than 10,000 students.  Excluding Alum Rock, Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley and Mount Pleasant school districts could potentially intensify Rocketship growth in neighboring districts with significant Latino populations, particularly in San Jose Unified School District.

Overview of the agreement:

  1. Rocketship will drop 13 of the 20 charters approved in 2011
  2. The six charters in districts that were not involved with the lawsuit will stay intact.  So Rockteship will be able to open three charters in San Jose Unified, one in Santa Clara Unified, one in Campbell Union School District, and one in Oak Grove School district.
  3. Rocketship cannot seek county wide charters inside the districts that filed suit for the next five years.  So Rocketship cannot seek any county wide charters for 5 years in Alum Rock, Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley and Mount Pleasant school districts.
  4. Rocketship cannot file any petitions in districts involved in the suit for two years.  So Rocketship cannot seek any local district charters for 2 years in Alum Rock, Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley and Mount Pleasant school districts.

Opening dates of the 6 charters that were retained by Rockteship.

District
Opening Date
Campbell Union School District2015
Santa Clara Unified School District2016
San Jose Unified School District2017
San Jose Unified School District2017
San Jose Unified School District2017
Oak Grove School District2018

 

Actual wording of the agreement.

  1. Rocketship shall submit to the SCCOE Board a written withdrawal of thirteen (13) countywide charters (Numbers 9-16, 19, and 21-25). Rocketship Number 9 was withdrawn by Rocketship in a letter to the California Department of Education (“CDE”) on August 2014.
  2. The SCCOE Board, at a public meeting will accept the withdrawal request from Rocketship and provide notice of its action to CDE.
  3. Rocketship shall retain the authorization of six (6) existing countywide charters at the following currently authorized locations: RS 17 (San Jose Unified School District), RS 18 (Santa Clara Unified School District), RS 20 (Campbell Elementary School District), RS 26 (Oak Grove School District), RS 27 (San Jose Unified School District) and RS 28 (San Jose Unified School District) (the “Retained Schools”).
  4. The Plaintiff Districts will not oppose changes to the operating dates of the Retained Schools.
  5. Rocketship will not seek to, and the SCCOE Board will not approve, relocation of any of the Retained Schools into the Plaintiff Districts.
  6. Rocketship will not submit for approval or operate any additional countywide charter schools within the boundaries of the Plaintiff Districts within five years from the execution of the agreement.
  7. Rocketship will not submit for approval any charter petition to the Plaintiff Districts’ governing boards prior to two years from the execution of the agreement.
  8. The SCCOE Board will invite all school district governing boards and superintendents in the County to a summit on policy and procedure regarding approval and operation of charter schools in the County by August 1, 2015.
  9. The parties will file a stipulated judgment with the court to conclude the litigation, with all parties providing mutual waivers and releases, and each party bearing its own fees and costs incurred in the litigation.