In Knapp. v. Palisades Charter High School (July 24, 2006) __ Cal.App.4th__, Division Seven of the Second Appellate District affirmed summary judgment in favor of a high school against a visiting student's sexual harassment lawsuit. The trial court granted summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to present a claim to the school district before suing the school.
The plaintiff argued that the high school , a charter school, was not part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school had not registered with the state Roster of Public Agencies. Government Code section 946.4 provides that a plaintiff doesn't have to present a claim before suing a public agency that hasn't registered with the Roster.
The court analyzed the relationships between charter schools and school districts; and concluded that although the school was a separate legal entity, it was still a subdivision of the school district, its chartering authority. Its existence, funding and charter depend on LAUSD. Charter schools are operationally independent from districts, the court concluded, but not legally independent.
The court also concluded that the correspondence between the plaintiff's parents and the school did not substantially comply with the claims requirement, because it did not present a demand for payment that would result in litigation if denied.