The embattled Green Valley Charter School in Los Banos may have suffered a fatal blow Wednesday after a Merced County judge ruled against the school’s latest push to stay open.
Merced County Judge Brian L. McCabe was the latest — and perhaps final — setback for the five-year-old, 200-student school whose administrators have struggled to defend low student test scores and other issues.
Green Valley Principal Andrew Meza said he wasn’t immediately available for comment.
He previously said the school would likely be forced to close if the court ruled against them Wednesday.
After the Los Banos Unified School District denied Green Valley’s first petition in February based on low test scores and dissatisfaction with the charter school’s educational plan, charter school officials appealed the decision to the Merced County Board of Education while submitting a revamped petition to the city’s school district board.
The city school district board president, on the advice of legal counsel, declined to put the charter back on the table for a second vote, saying it would violate the process laid out by State Education Code.
At the same time, the county board denied the charter school’s appeal, citing concerns with low test scores as well as potential legal troubles regarding school facilities and questionable credentialing for school executives.
The state’s timetable for a hearing was too late for Green Valley’s current charter with the school district, which will expire after Friday.
So charter officials attempted to force the school district to hear, or automatically renew, the second petition by seeking a court order.
On Monday, charter and district officials stated their cases.
Green Valley lawyers argued that the State Education Code doesn’t prohibit a second petition from being heard, but, rather, the law requires a school district to hear it.
School district lawyers countered that Green Valley was required to go through the process through the county and state and that the initial denial was a final action by the school district.
McCabe sided with the school district’s legal interpretation of the Education Code, stating that in the absence of legal precedent, “common sense” of the Education Code and Charter Schools Act of 1992 doesn’t permit a charter school to present a second petition after denial of the first petition.
School district officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562