Tentative ruling in Dozier-Libbey case favors teachers
By John Crowder
Judge Laurel Brady has issued a tentative ruling in a case filed by the petitioner teachers of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) against the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD). In it, she grants the injunction requested by teachers at the school to prevent AUSD, et. al, “from converting anything related to Dozier-Libbey Medical School to the Dozier-Libbey Medical School, a dependent charter school, during the pendency of the action.” A final ruling on the matter is expected this Friday.
AUSD personnel, in response to a majority of the teachers at DLMHS (88% of the certificated teaching staff) filing a petition to convert the school to a charter school, filed a petition with the AUSD School Board (Board) of their own. In it, they proposed what they referred to as a “dependent charter school” that would remain under the control of the district. Subsequently, the Board denied the teacher’s petition for a conversion charter school, and approved the district proposed dependent charter school at a packed meeting on March 19th.
One of the key issues in the case is whether or not the AUSD’s proposal was a start-up charter school, as district personnel claimed, or if it was in actuality a conversion of an existing school. This is an important issue to be decided, as the legal requirements differ when converting a school to a charter as opposed to starting a charter school. For example, the signature requirements differ between the two scenarios. In a conversion of an existing school to a charter school, a petition is required to have signatures of 50% of the existing teaching staff. As noted earlier, the conversion petition submitted by the teachers had signatures from 88% of the current teaching staff, while the petition submitted by the district does not have signatures of any current DLMHS teachers.
In her tentative ruling, Judge Brady stated, “Plaintiffs [DLMHS teachers] have shown that the Defendants [AUSD personnel] have performed a de facto conversion of DLMHS.”
In the analysis provided with her decision, Judge Brady notes that one of the factors that must be evaluated by the court with respect to whether a preliminary injunction should issue is the likelihood the plaintiff will prevail on the merits at trial. Judge Brady concludes that, “Because Plaintiffs’ underlying action is likely to succeed…Plaintiffs’ Application for an Injunction is granted.”
The complete text of the tentative ruling issued by Judge Brady can be found online at the Contra Costa Superior Court website. The case number is MSN14-0453, Dozier-Libbey vs. AUSD.