MARTINEZ -- A Contra Costa Superior Court judge is expected to make a final ruling later this week on whether to halt the Antioch school district's effort to establish Dozier-Libbey Medical High School as a district-run charter school.
Meanwhile, a deadline for students and teachers to decide whether they want to be part of the district's proposed dependent charter has been extended until Friday.
Judge Laurel Brady's tentative ruling Friday granted a temporary restraining order request by teachers at the school trying to stop the district's move. The teachers are hoping to convert Dozier-Libbey into an independent charter school free of district control.
Noting that "everyone is under a great deal of stress" in dealing with the issue and its complexities, Brady asked for more time to adequately address concerns surrounding the case at Monday's court hearing.
"We were encouraged that (the judge) wanted to take additional time to look at the facts," Superintendent Donald Gill said after the hearing.
Last month, the district filed its own charter petition for the medical-themed magnet school to thwart a teacher-led petition to convert it into an independent charter -- a novel move for California that has raised questions and concerns among those who follow charter-school-related efforts.
The saga has also created confusion and angst on the Dozier-Libbey campus and in the community as a whole.
"We've been waiting, and it looks like we're going to be waiting again," said teacher Robert Young, one of the lead petitioners.
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. If the teachers ultimately prevail, Dozier-Libbey would become an independent charter free of district control.
Young said teachers felt "a lot of relief" when they learned that the tentative ruling went in their favor.
Both sides appeared in Brady's courtroom Monday to make their case.
David Soldani and Scott Holbrook, lawyers representing the school district, argued that the dependent charter has been formed legally as a startup, disputing a claim that it is a "de facto conversion charter."
"Essentially, what (they) are asking this court to do, is to stop a legally formed dependent charter school from operating this year," Soldani said.
Paul Minney, the attorney for the independent charter petitioners, urged Brady to stick with her tentative ruling.
"They are trying to hold form over substance. The evidence demonstrates that they tried to create a startup charter school in name only," he said. "Clearly, it's a calculated, orchestrated attack on an existing school."
Soldani argued that none of the arguments for the restraining order are based on case law and statutes, and thus should not be granted.
Attorneys for both sides argued about who would be entitled to use the site, how far along the dependent charter is in the development process, and the amount of harm there would be to the district by stopping formation of the dependent charter.
"Right now, the dependent charter is on paper only, other than the things they've created among themselves," Minney said.
District officials said they will continue to move forward this week with rolling out plans for the dependent charter, including holding an informational meeting for parents Wednesday.
As for the independent charter petitioners, much of the focus is still centered on a May 7 public hearing with the county Office of Education board to hear their appeal of Antioch Unified's decision rejecting their charter petition.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.