Judge rules against Antioch school district in Dozier-Libbey case
By John Crowder
Judge Laurel Brady issued her decision, on Thursday, May 1, 2014, following a hearing last Monday 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 affirms her tentative decision issued last Friday, granting 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.”
In her decision, Judge Brady acknowledges both the novelty and complexity of the case, saying, “This is a unique situation and series of events with little case law or legislative history that is helpful. It is also not only an analysis of the statutory and case law that applies, but requires a careful review and analysis of the actions taken by the parties.”
As previously reported, the issue of whether or not the action taken by AUSD involved the conversion of a school to a charter, or if it was a start-up, as AUSD contended, was critical to the analysis conducted by Judge Brady. She said, “…if Respondants [AUSD], although labeling it a start up charter school, in fact created a conversion charter school, they did not fulfill the requirements of the statute and the Petitioners [DLMHS teachers] (are) likely to prevail.”
Judge Brady went on to note five actions taken by AUSD that she used to determine that AUSD had, “although labeling it as a start up charter school, really created a conversion charter school.” Her opinion reads, “The court noted the following:
Respondants selected the same or very similar name for the new charter school as the existing school
The new charter school was to be located in the same location/campus as the existing school.
Respondants assigned the same school district code numbers for the school. (Logically, these codes would be different for a new start up school)
Respondants assigned the same API scores as the existing school (these API scores would not apply to a start up school)
The notice indicated that existing students would get preference at the new charter school (which is a requirement of a conversion school not a start up).”
Even with today’s ruling, however, the final dispensation of DLMHS is not yet settled. The teachers who filed the petition to convert DLMHS to an independent charter must still obtain approval for their proposal. It was rejected by the AUSD School Board on March 19th, and appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Education following that action. The County Board will conduct a public hearing on the matter on May 7th, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Middle School multipurpose room, 1 Santa Barbara Road, Pleasant Hill.