MARTINEZ -- The Antioch school district will have to halt its effort to establish Dozier-Libbey Medical High School as a district-run charter school, a Contra Costa Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Laurel Brady affirmed a tentative ruling granting a temporary restraining order request by teachers at the school trying to stop the district's move.
The teachers, hoping to convert Dozier-Libbey into an independent charter school free of district control, were elated upon hearing the news Thursday afternoon. The injunction is aimed at "maintaining the status quo until a final determination on the competing petitions is had," Brady said.
"This is exactly the news we were hoping for, an opportunity to take the legal route and show the merits of our petition," said Stacey Wickware, one of the lead petitioners.
Superintendent Donald Gill said Thursday afternoon he hadn't had a chance to look at the decision yet, and that district officials plan to talk with their attorneys about the next steps.
"This is just one step along the journey. There are a lot of steps yet to take," Gill said.
Last month, Antioch Unified filed its own charter petition for the medical-themed magnet school to thwart the teacher-led petition -- a novel move for California that has raised questions and concerns among those who follow charter school-related efforts.
Several times in her ruling, Brady noted the uniqueness of the situation and scant case law to assess the circumstances.
During a court hearing Monday, Antioch Unified argued that it had established a startup charter school and that it must move forward quickly to start school in August. But Brady noted in her ruling the school had a similar name, same location and state code number, and was assigned the same state test scores as the existing school.
"Taken as a whole, the logical conclusion is that (the district), although labeling it as a startup charter school, really created a conversion charter school," she said. Under the rules for conversion charter petitions, the district would need the signatures of a majority of teachers at the school.
The independent charter petitioners have a public hearing Wednesday with the county Office of Education board to hear their appeal of Antioch Unified's decision rejecting their petition.
The teachers showed the threat of "irreparable injury" as it would be "virtually impossible to 're-create' the current school" if the court denied the injunction and the teachers' appeal is successful, Brady said.
"Now the focus of the hearing can be about the merits of our petition, and express why we believe we have a great case," Wickware said. Having the dependent charter in place would "divert attention away from our proposal," she said.
Under the district's plan, the school would establish an advisory committee and receive a dedicated funding stream, as is the case with traditional charters, but continue to be governed by the school district.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.