Superintendents and school board members were angry last year when the Santa Clara County Board of Education approved plans for 20 Rocketship Education elementary charter schools over the next six years, in addition to the five county-approved Rocketship schools in the works or already open. Now, many are furious that the county board may assert its power to exempt a Rocketship school from San Jose zoning ordinances.
This wouldn’t be the first time a charter authorizer used its status as a school district to grant an exemption to a zoning ordinance, although it is rare. Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified each asserted its right to approve a site for a charter school. However, this apparently would mark the first time that a county office of education would use the same authority. Some local districts claim county offices lack the right to tread on their turf, even though land use is a municipal, not a school district, responsibility.