Yesterday, the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) announced that they will be taking legal action against the Kern County Board of Education (KCBE) and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools for their decision to approve the Central Academy of Arts and Technology (CAAT) charter school.
DHF has called this decision unlawful and made the move to take legal action after both the Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) staff recommended the denial of the CAAT charter school due to concerns about discrimination against students with disabilities and English language learners.
“KCBE and KCSOS are responsible for ensuring all Kern County students, irrespective of the student’s race, language, nationality, or abilities, are provided with a quality and robust education. KCBE and KCSOS both know that the CAAT school cannot provide a sound education to students from low-income families, English Language Learners, and disabled students. KCBE and KCSOS should never have granted the CAAT petition,” Ashley de la Rosa, Education Policy Director at DHF, commented. “DHF is taking legal action because KCBE and KCSOS should not be allowed to violate federal and state laws and ignore the educational needs of our communities.”
In 2022, CAAT submitted a petition to the BCSD for approval, which was subsequently denied. CAAT then appealed the decision to the Kern County Board of Education. During this appeal process, KCSOS’s staff produced a report that cited multiple concerns with CAAT’s education plan and recommended that the Board of Education deny the CAAT petition.
Additionally, the CAAT petition lacked community support and failed to get the requisite number of teacher signatures as state law requires. In a press release sent out by DHF, the organization revealed that at every point in the CAAT petition and appeal process, DHF and impacted community members voiced their opposition, urging elected officials to deny the CAAT petition and CAAT appeal. Despite the overwhelming opposition, KCBE approved the petition in January 2023.
DHF is being represented by lead attorney Munmeeth Soni of Disability Rights California. The organization states that both the Kern County Board of Education and KCSOS failed in their respective duties to comply with federal and state education laws and approved CAAT’s charter school petition that discriminates against students with disabilities and English language learners. DHF adds that the Board of Education and KCSOS abused their discretion by approving a petition that did not comply with the requirements of the Education Code.
“KCBE and KCSOS disregarded the desires and recommendations of the local community, local educators, and even its staff by approving a charter school that could harm vulnerable student populations,” DHF argued.
Kern Sol News reached out to the KCSOS for a comment on the legal actions taking place, but they were unable to comment due to pending litigation.
“KCBE and KCSOS are tasked with the essential duty of ensuring that our public funds are being used to improve our schools and education system. KCBE and KCSOS have failed in their duties by approving a charter school that will ultimately fail our students. KCBE and KCSOS must be held accountable. DHF trusts that the Court will find that KCBE and KCSOS violated their duties and order them to rescind their approval of the CAAT petition,” DHF concluded.