Horvitz & Levy obtained reversal of orders that would have shut down three of our clients’ charter schools and permanently enjoined our clients’ operations.
Our clients are nonprofits that operate and provide services to charter schools, with a focus on serving at-risk students who have struggled in traditional schools. Three of these charter schools maintain resource centers that are located outside the school districts that authorized the schools’ charters. The schools do so under provisions of California’s Charter Schools Act that allow certain charter school facilities outside the authorizing district.
Two large school districts challenged the schools’ legality. The large districts argued that the schools are effectively identical to schools whose operation was enjoined in prior litigation. The large districts asked the trial court for far-reaching remedies: lifting the stay of the prior judgments and amending them to add the new schools and additional parties; issuing writs of mandate ordering the schools’ charters to be revoked; and permanently enjoining the nonprofits from operating inside the large districts’ boundaries. The trial court adopted the large districts’ “same schools” theory, reasoning that the alter ego doctrine could be used to compare these schools to the ones at issue in the prior litigation and could override the plain language of the Charter Schools Act. As a result, the trial court issued orders that would have forced the schools to shut down.
The nonprofits retained Horvitz & Levy to brief the appeal. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s orders, agreeing with our argument that the trial court improperly lifted the stay of the prior judgments, and that in any event, the trial court’s orders must be reversed because the schools comply with the Charter Schools Act.