This past year has been challenging for educators. The pandemic brought stay-at-home executive orders, and our teachers and administrators were stretched in new ways. Through it all, we have found success, and students are engaged at (school’s name here).
Another surprise was the state legislature and Governor’s decision to deny funding for new students at schools like ours. Thousands of students fled traditional school districts that failed to pivot to distance learning effectively. Many students flocked to charter schools as they were successfully providing daily instruction. The schools that chose to serve these students did not receive funding for these new students. Instead, the student funding stayed with the district they attended the year prior. Millions of dollars stayed with districts that were not serving these phantom students. The public was informed that revenue was not available; however, in December 2020, the state reported a surplus in state funding. Simply put, the legislature and Governor did not want successful charter schools to grow.
Schools that were denied funding are designated by the State of California as “non-classroom based” or NCB public charter schools. Schools that receive NCB status have students on campus less than 80% of the time, which is why these programs are funded differently. The irony is that despite what the label insinuates, most NCB charter schools do have classrooms, campuses, technology, teachers, and students on campus multiple days a week. But this does not change the designation and misinformation at the state level.
As the news of legislators and the Governor’s actions unfolded across the state, NCB charter schools took notice. The Classical Academies, Springs Charter Schools, and The Learning Choice Academy stepped forward and sued the State of California. The Reyes vs. State lawsuit asks the court to decide if the Governor and legislature have the right to withhold constitutionally guaranteed public education funding from a public school. This case was recently designated a class-action lawsuit by the court, and because of this, all NCB charter schools will be represented and impacted by the court’s decision.
A ruling in favor of NCB public charter schools will send a clear message to the state and Governor that NCB schools are entitled to fair and equal treatment as a California public school. Our success will also assure that this failure to fund students will not happen again. The Sacramento Superior Court has set a hearing date of July 2 to hear our case. If the case is decided in favor of NCB schools, the State will likely appeal that decision, and the appellate court would take up the matter.
We are fortunate to be in a position to have exemplary schools offering non-classroom-based programming at the forefront of this suit against the State of California. We know that this fight is about standing up for students that are achieving success in our programs. State leaders are not valuing the flexibility, rigor, and relevance our school provides, and we have every hope that the courts will review the facts and make a decision in favor of our students.
This year has brought us all new experiences. The case of Reyes vs State will be remembered as a time when we stepped forward to ensure that our students in non-classroom based programs were valued, heard, and seen.
If you are interested in learning more about the lawsuit, you can go to www.FundAllKidsNow.com. There you can read a copy of the court briefs and see videos of some of the inspiring student plaintiffs in our case.