ANTIOCH -- A state appellate court has upheld a Contra Costa Superior Court judge's decision stopping the Antioch school district from establishing a district-run charter school at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.
The decision keeps the health care-themed magnet school status quo until a final determination is made about the teachers' plans to convert Dozier-Libbey into an independent charter school free of district control.
Any charter changes would not happen until the 2015-16 school year, if at all.
"It affirms what we have felt all along; that the district's dependent charter petition is invalid," said Robert Young, one of the lead teacher petitioners.
Antioch Superintendent Donald Gill said the ruling wasn't a surprise given that injunctions of that nature are rarely overturned. However, the court did keep open the chance for a full appellate hearing later in the school year, he said.
"We were compelled to at least make an attempt. This is just a part of the process, and it gets us to a hearing," Gill said.
Antioch Unified filed its own charter petition in March at Dozier-Libbey 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.
The Contra Costa Board of Education rejected the Dozier-Libbey teachers' autonomy bid in May, leaving about a five-month window to decide whether to appeal to the state board of education.
Teachers said this week they are in the process of preparing an appeal to go before the state in the fall, including making some tweaks to its language.
It was initially thought that they would have to meet an August deadline, but after being told the earliest the appeal could be heard is October, Young said they decided not to rush.
"We were able to take a deep breath, let it sit and recharge the batteries, then worry about taking the next steps," he said.
The court decision is the latest chapter in an issue that for months has divided the Antioch community.
Sara Hall-Cottrell, new president of the school's PTSA, said she hopes the appellate decision is "a step toward establishing normalcy."
"I think that's what most people want. In the long run, it's got to be about teaching the kids. All of the 'is it a charter,' 'is it not a charter' stuff is taking away from the focus on the students," she said.
Representatives from the district and Dozier-Libbey teachers held several meetings in June, including a couple with the district's teachers union attending, to discuss a "common ground" compromise, but those talks stalled.
Both sides have indicated they would be willing to continue discussions in August.
In the meanwhile, plans continue for the start of school.
Interim principal Scott Bergerhouse said this week he has completed the main schedule of who will teach what, and has started communicating one-on-one with teachers to introduce himself.
Young said he hadn't heard yet from the principal about next year's plans, but knows a few teachers have.
"It's kind of a waiting game," he said.
An autodialer sent messages to parents last week notifying them that registration for students is Aug. 4. Bergerhouse said he plans to send out a letter of introduction soon to families.
One of the main goals, he said, is to obtain the trust of the Dozier-Libbey community and have its trust in his leadership.
"It's been a real positive so far and everyone has been welcoming," Bergerhouse said. "I think we all want what's best for the kids -- providing a real sound education."
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.