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Nathan G. v. Clovis Unified School District

California Court of Appeal, Fifth District

March 25, 2014

NATHAN G., Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
CLOVIS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Fresno County No. 12CECG01032. Carlos A. Cabrera, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Central California Legal Services and Michael T. Brooks for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Lozano Smith, Ruth E. Mendyk, Sloan R. Simmons and Aimee M. Perry for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

KANE, ACTING P.J.

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Fresno County denying a petition for a writ of administrative mandamus under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5.[1] On November 30, 2011, Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) involuntarily transferred Nathan G. (Nathan) from Clovis High School (Clovis) to Gateway High School (Gateway), a continuation school, pursuant to Education Code section 48432.5. On March 29, 2012, Nathan petitioned for a writ of administrative mandamus compelling CUSD to set aside the transfer, expunge any mention of said transfer from his academic records, and reinstate him at Clovis.[2] He concurrently filed an ex parte application for an alternative writ of administrative mandamus. CUSD filed an opposition to the application on April 4, 2012, arguing that its decision to involuntarily transfer Nathan was subject to judicial review under section 1085, which governs ordinary mandamus proceedings, because Education Code section 48432.5 does not require a hearing. On May 17, 2012, the superior court evaluated CUSD’s action under section 1094.5, determined that substantial evidence supported the findings, and denied writ relief. Nathan graduated on June 5, 2012, and filed a notice of appeal on July 12, 2012.

On appeal, Nathan contends that (1) Education Code section 48432.5 demands reasonable exhaustion of all other means of correction before a student can be involuntarily transferred to continuation school[3] and (2) an

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involuntary transfer substantially affects a fundamental vested right, necessitating the superior court’s exercise of independent judgment on the evidence. CUSD maintains that its administrative decision should have been evaluated under section 1085.[4]

We conclude: (1) Education Code section 48432.5 requires a hearing upon request and administrative actions made pursuant to this statute are subject to judicial review under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5; (2) Education Code section 48432.5 does not demand reasonable exhaustion of all other means of correction before a student can be involuntarily transferred to continuation school; and (3) the substantial evidence test is proper because an involuntary transfer does not substantially affect a fundamental vested right.

FACTUAL HISTORY [5]

On November 17, 2011, Nathan, then a senior at Clovis, was suspended after he admitted to school officials that he and other students had smoked marijuana prior to their ...


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