Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

by
After Jerald Glaviano interceded in a confrontation between two of his students, the Sacramento City Unified School District (the District) placed him on unpaid leave and issued an accusation and a notice of intent to dismiss or suspend him without pay. The Commission on Professional Competence (Commission) dismissed the accusation and ordered the District to reinstate Glaviano to his former position with back pay and benefits. Education Code section 449441 provided that if the Commission determines an employee should not be dismissed or suspended, the governing board of the school district shall pay “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the employee.” Glaviano requested fees based on the prevailing hourly rate for similar work in the community, but the trial court concluded the fee award must be based on the reduced hourly rate Glaviano’s counsel actually charged. The issue presented on appeal was whether the phrase “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the employee” in section 44944 necessarily limited a fee award to fees actually charged. The Court of Appeal concluded it did not. The Court found the lodestar method appropriate: reasonable hours spent, multiplied by the prevailing hourly rate for similar work in the community. View "Glaviano v. Sacramento City Unified School District" on Justia Law

by
The Legislature exempted a government claim to a local public entity on a childhood sexual abuse action from the claim presentation requirement of the Government Claims Act, but permitted local public entities to impose their own claim presentation requirements. The Court of Appeal granted a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order overruling petitioners' demurrers to Jane Doe's first amended complaint, and to enter a new order sustaining their demurrers. The demurrers were based on Doe's failure to present a government claim to petitioner school district before commencing her judicial action against petitioners. In this case, Doe failed to allege timely compliance with the district's claim presentation requirement, or an excuse for failure to comply. Therefore, the court held that petitioners' demurrers to the first amended complaint should have been sustained. View "Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
The Legislature exempted a government claim to a local public entity on a childhood sexual abuse action from the claim presentation requirement of the Government Claims Act, but permitted local public entities to impose their own claim presentation requirements. The Court of Appeal granted a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order overruling petitioners' demurrers to Jane Doe's first amended complaint, and to enter a new order sustaining their demurrers. The demurrers were based on Doe's failure to present a government claim to petitioner school district before commencing her judicial action against petitioners. In this case, Doe failed to allege timely compliance with the district's claim presentation requirement, or an excuse for failure to comply. Therefore, the court held that petitioners' demurrers to the first amended complaint should have been sustained. View "Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
The school’s principal recommended that M.N., a seventh grader, be expelled, based upon allegations that M.N. had committed sexual assault or sexual battery upon a 13-year-old female student on multiple occasions while the two rode a school bus. The district's administrative panel conducted a hearing and recommended expulsion, finding that M.N. had committed or attempted to commit sexual assault or committed sexual battery, and also committed sexual harassment. Unsuccessful with the District’s Governing Board and the Santa Clara County Board of Education, M.N. filed sought mandamus relief. The superior court concluded there was substantial evidence to support the finding that M.N. had committed sexual battery so that the District was required by statute to expel him for one year. The court remanded for consideration of whether the evidence justified the exercise of statutory discretion to suspend expulsion. M.N. argued that the sexual battery finding was unsupported by any competent evidence of the element of specific intent, i.e., that M.N.’s unwanted touching was “for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse” (Pen. Code, 243.4(e)(1)) and that evidence of such specific intent was entirely hearsay. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that there was substantial evidence—including competent, admissible, nonhearsay evidence—to support the finding of sexual battery. View "M.N. v. Morgan Hill Unified School District" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of the mandate relief sought by Today's Fresh Start. Today's Fresh Start sought both an approval and renewal of its charter in the same petition to the school district. The court held that a petition for renewal is governed by different procedures than a petition seeking to add an additional location, and that IUSD was correct in treating them separately. The court agreed with the school district and the trial court that the deemed approval applied to the petition to renew the charter, but not to the request for a material revision to add a specified location. In this case, the school district retained the authority to consider the request for material revision to add the specified location despite the fact that the renewal petition had been deemed approved. View "Today's Fresh Start Charter School v. Inglewood Unified School District" on Justia Law

by
School Boards sued, alleging that Government Code 17557(d)(2)(B)) and Education Code 42238.24 and 56523(f) “implemented . . . broad changes in mandate law that were intended to eliminate or reduce the State’s mandate reimbursement obligations” and shifted the cost of the Behavioral Intervention Plans Mandate ($65 million annually) and the Graduation Requirements mandate ($250 million annually), to districts and county offices of education. Plaintiffs claimed violation of California Constitution article XIII B, section 6 or article III, section 3; that Government Code 17557(d)(2)(B) “impermissibly burdens the constitutional right to reimbursement guaranteed by article XIII B, section 6 and is invalid to the extent it allows the State to reduce or eliminate mandate claims by claiming ‘offsetting revenues’ that do not represent new or additional funding . . . as reflected in the Legislature’s directives in Education Code sections [42238.24] and 56523.” The court of appeal affirmed the rejection of the claims, in part. Government Code 17557(d)(2)(B), as applied in Education Code 42238.24 and 56523(f), does not violate the state’s constitutional obligation to reimburse local governments for the costs of mandated programs and does not violate the separation of powers doctrine. It is constitutional for the legislature to designate funding it already provides as offsetting revenue when reimbursing them for new state-mandated programs where the legislation operates prospectively only. View "California School Boards Association v. State of California" on Justia Law

by
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) notified Cornelius Oluseyi Ogunsalu that it had found probable cause to recommend the suspension of his preliminary teaching credentials for 21 days and that Ogunsalu's application for a clear credential would be granted only upon completion of the suspension. Ogunsalu requested a continuance of the administrative hearing before the Commission. An administrative law judge (ALJ) of the OAH denied the continuance on the ground Ogunsalu had not shown good cause for it. Ogunsalu was a vexatious litigant, and sought to challenge the denial of the continuance request by filing a petition for writ of mandate with the superior court. Ogunsalu then requested permission from the Court of Appeal to file a petition for a writ directing the superior court to vacate its order denying his request to file the petition for writ of mandate in that court. In the proposed filing, he contended that the superior court had abused its discretion by relying on his status as a vexatious litigant to deny his request to file the petition for writ of mandate, because he was a "defendant" in the administrative hearing before the Commission and sought to "appeal" a ruling against him in that proceeding. The Court of Appeal concluded that the vexatious litigant prefiling requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 391.7 applied to a self-represented litigant, previously declared a vexatious litigant, who filed a writ of mandate proceeding in the superior court to challenge the denial of his request to continue an administrative proceeding where the vexatious litigant was the respondent in the administrative proceeding. Accordingly, the superior court correctly subjected the vexatious litigant to the prefiling requirements of section 391.7. Because subsequent events have rendered effective relief impossible, the petition was dismissed as moot. View "Ogunsalu v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

by
Education Code section 17406 authorizes school districts to use lease-leaseback agreements for construction or improvement of school facilities: the school district leases its own real property to a contractor for a nominal amount, and the contractor agrees to construct or improve school facilities on the property and lease the property and improvements back to the district. At the end of the lease-leaseback agreement, title to the project vests in the school district. California Taxpayers Network brought a reverse validation action (Code Civ. Proc. 863), challenging a lease-leaseback agreement between Mount Diablo School District and Taber Construction, alleging that the Education Code requires “genuine lease-leaseback agreements,” which “provide for financing of the school facility project over time,” but defendants’ lease-leaseback contracts were “sham leases”; that the contracts were illegal because a public bidding process is required for school construction projects; and that Taber provided professional preconstruction services to the District regarding the project before entering the lease-leaseback contracts. The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of claims "that attempt to engraft requirements on the transaction" that are not part of the Education Code. The court reversed in part, holding that the plaintiff did state a conflict of interest claim against Taber sufficient to withstand a demurrer. View "California Taxpayers Action Network v. Taber Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court's exercise of jurisdiction to hear a petition declaring A.N. a habitual truant under Education Code, 48262, concluding that 26 unexcused absences during the first half of the school year exceeded the four-truancy threshold that vests jurisdiction in the juvenile court. The Court of Appeals held that the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) process is not a prerequisite to juvenile court intervention, explaining that it is one of several parallel tracks that can lead to a habitual truant's adjudication as a ward of the court. Here, neither school officials nor the district attorney short-circuited that process. In the alternative, the Court of Appeals rejected the claim that a fourth truancy report must issue before a juvenile court can assert jurisdiction over a habitual truant. View "In re A.N." on Justia Law

by
Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that the "trigger petition" at issue in this case satisfied the parent signature requirement. The petition was submitted pursuant to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which mandated that states establish accountability systems, requiring that all schools make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). California later enacted the Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 (the Act) which allowed parents of children in poor-performing schools to trigger a change in the governance of those schools. In early 2015, parents of students enrolled at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim submitted such a petition under the Act to the Anaheim City School District. Petitioners), filed a petition for a writ of mandate against Anaheim City School District and Anaheim City School District Board of Education (together, the District). The petition sought the issuance of a writ commanding the District to accept the trigger petition or provide legally sufficient reasons for rejecting it. Following a six-day bench trial, the court found the District’s reasons for rejecting the trigger petition invalid and granted the petition for a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal affirmed the district court, finding: (1) the Act applied to Palm Lane Elementary School; (2) substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the trigger petition met the requirements under the Act and Regulations section 4804; (3) insufficient evidence showed that the entity called Ed Reform Now constituted an agency or organization that supported the trigger petition through direct financial assistance or in-kind contributions of staff and volunteers, so as to require that its name appear on the front page of the trigger petition within the meaning of Regulations section 4802, subdivision (a)(1) and (10); and (4) Petitioners exhausted their administrative remedies by submitting the trigger petition to the District in January 2015, so they were not required to resubmit a revised petition to the District before seeking writ relief. View "Ochoa v. Anaheim City Sch. Dist." on Justia Law