All charter schools are considered their own Local Education Agency (LEA). In the Los Angeles area, some are managed fiscally by LAUSD and are also under the ultimate control of its elected board; these are known as “affiliated” charter schools. “Independent” charter schools receive funding directly from the state, without District pass-through of funds, and are governed by their own, mostly unelected, boards.

From 2020-21 (state) data, of LAUSD’s 1054 schools, there are joint Free And Reduced Price Meals (FRPM), and racial, data for 965 “Regular/Charter/Alternative (Unspecialized) K12” schools (table 1). The management status of all its schools is proportionally about 2:1::District:Charter schools. The fiscal status of its 301 charter schools is proportionally 4:1::“independent”:”affiliated”.


Table 1: Relative demographics of LAUSD’s District and charter schools. Poverty concentration in District and fiscally independent charter schools are approximately equal and twice that of fiscally “affiliated” charter schools. Wealthier affiliated schools are more than six times as white and Asian, and half as Hispanic.

LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD) reports on 324 campuses, 47 of which are schools spread onto multiple sites, sometimes as many as four campuses; there are 277 separate charter schools. 44 Charter Management Organizations (CMO) operate one or more of these schools collectively; the rest are managed by an entity that is not a CMO, including management that is District-affiliated (tables 2a and 2b). The county and state authorize 29 charter schools in LAUSD’s footprint. No data are provided on three LAUSD charter campuses. Beyond fiscal operations and governance, schools are classified according to whether they originated in the District prior to being ‘converted’ to a charter school or were ‘started-up’ de novo.


Table 2a: Distribution and enrollment of Charter Management Organizations (CMO) in LAUSD according to school types they operate, whether fiscally affiliated or independent, converted from a District school or started from new.


Table 2b: Distribution and enrollment of charters operated independent from Management Organizations (CMO) in LAUSD including District-affiliated, according to school types they operate, whether fiscally affiliated or independent, converted from a District school or started from new.

The charter schools are not evenly distributed between LAUSD’s 7 political board districts (table 3). Its wealthier BD3 and BD4 constitute nearly 50% charter students. More than half the charter students in these board districts attend fiscally “affiliated” charter schools, with their very different demographics (see table 1 above).


Table 3: Distribution of school enrollment across LAUSD Board Districts by school types.

Charter Facilities

A lot of misery for both charter and district communities surround facilities. In practice, charter communities are entitled to public, District land, as was codified by a 2000 state proposition, “Prop 39.” The bill was characterized as a facilities bill and sold as great for Education by lowering the voting threshold required to pass facilities bonds to 55%. The previous 2/3 threshold had proved a high bar to surpass, resulting in deficient funding and facilities.

The bill also defined through retrospective litigation, a practical definition of charter schools as public facilities requiring “reasonably equivalent” access to public District facilities. The bill was not commonly understood by the electorate as redefining the entitlement of charter schools so much as attending all schools’ crumbling infrastructural needs, as evidenced by this contemporaneous news article that never mentions charter schools. The litigation formalized a curious duality of charter schools in that they are public in some senses – for example they do utilize public monies – and private in others, for example in terms of school management and public access and entitlement.

Today (2021-22) there are 57 District campuses physically sharing space with “co-located” charters on their campus (table 4a). Because there are charter schools operating on multiple sites, it is possible for one charter school to physically dislocate more than one District school site (though none does) and it is possible for one charter school to both co-locate and not, on multiple campuses (ie, N(charter campuses)=324 > N(total charters)=277). In order to compare enrollment by campus rather than school, enrollment totals are replicated for each schools’ campus and are therefore not accurate in table 4 overall. Disruptive co-locations are affected primarily via “Prop-39” or “Prop 39-AA” agreements. There are three long-term leases and one other agreement.

Another 30 schools co-locate on District property without physically displacing a current District school. There are many reasons for these non-disruptive “co-locations”, which are naturally attractive to charter schools and that they argue the District ought to make available for their purposes more readily. Sometimes space utilized was administrative, or occupies a formerly-shuttered school site, or the conversion charter occupies its own former school site. Some campuses are fully turned over to charter purposes. There are Prop-39 agreements, sole occupancy and other agreements, and long-term leases reflecting this group’s co-location disruptivity. This characteristic is imputed from statistics and not physical verification, and may therefore be imperfectly categorized; corrections are welcomed.


Table 4a: Enrollment at charter co-locating, and District co-located, schools. According to facilities use agreement and distinguished by whether the colocation physically displaces a District school. Schools without a facilities use agreement are in table 4b. Each multisite charter campus is labelled with its schools’ full enrollment for comparison with its host campus. Consequently group enrollment totals are not accurate.

237 campuses are without a normal facilities use agreement (“n/a”) with the CSD (table 4b). These schools opt instead either for space in private, stand-alone facilities, rented from secular and non-secular operations, or in the case of affiliated charter schools utilize the space they had occupied prior to their conversion. Independent charter operators are underrepresented (though not statistically significantly, Fisher’s exact p=0.071) among disruptive co-locations. So it is CMOs that are more likely associated with the disruption on District campuses due to co-location, than it is the independently-managed, “mom/pop” charter schools.


Table 4b: Enrollment at charter schools without a District agreement for facilities use. Schools that utilize District facilities are in table 3a according to co-location status. Each multisite charter campus is labelled with its schools’ full enrollment so group enrollment totals are not accurate.

Localizing Disruptive Co-Location

The disruption of co-location is not unevenly distributed across board districts. But the most number of physically disruptive co-locations is in board district 5 (table 5; though more co-locating charter students are in board district 3). BD5 is arguably the first board district to have been targeted successfully by hyper-deep-pocketed corporate charter interests with the shameless unseating of Bennett Kayser in 2017 by charter school CMO co-founder Ref Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez criminally laundered campaign finances presumably to attract the attention of these fathomless interests. Upon election he managed to cling to his board seat laboring under felony charges, long enough to translate the election of that fabulously expensive pro-charter-majority board into the appointment of a Superintendent from out of that very venture philanthropists’ own world.


Table 5: Distribution of charter management operator’s (CMO’s) facilities by co-location status across all board districts. Both campuses and schools are counted; enrollment is accurately summed across schools and CMOs explicitly.

Counting carefully across political districts reveals pressure points on our fragile system of public schools. The predominance of charter schools in board district 2 suggests this is the district where neighborhood public schools are most vulnerable. This is the community where nonprofits such as Inner City Struggle (ICS) with its present leader Maria Brenes, partner of ICS co-founder and long-time community organizer, Luis Sanchez (former school board candidate in BD5, mentor of SEIU 99’s Lester Garcia, one-time Chief-of-Staff of BD2 board member Monica Garcia and lately chair of the 2021 LAUSD Redistricting Commission), have been supporting a public school privatization ecosystem for decades. Closely allied with LAUSD2’s Monica Garcia and the Public School Choice-charter ideology of former mayor Villaraigosa, that ecosystem involves groups organizing specifically around the Big Idea of challenging public management of public assets.

The path to election in Monica Garcia’s BD2 has been carefully scrubbed by her allies; even its lines have been calibrated by several ICS-partisan redistricting commissioners. The charter school buildout, heaviest in BD2, is an expression of that communities’ strength. Their proliferation there is a surrogate measure of political power so fundamentally antidemocratic, anti-union and insensible, there is no justification for these to be sustained. Teachers and their communities are mobilizing the vote for neighborhood schools champion Rocio Rivas now.

Please join friends of true public schools by voting for Dr. Rocio Rivas in board district 2 on June 7, 2022 We must calm the threat to democracy from privatization, pioneered through this challenge to our public schools.