The Office of Administrative Law is an obscure branch of the governor's office that was created more than three decades ago, during Jerry Brown's first governorship, to ensure that rules issued by state agencies comply with the law.
That function makes it the next venue for opponents of the state Board of Education's newly adopted rules governing the expenditure of billions of extra dollars meant to enhance the educations of poor and "English learner" students.
It's Brown's pet education reform and he supported the state board's embrace of "flexibility," giving local school districts leeway in determining how best to spend the extra money on the targeted kids, who are nearly 60 percent of the state's six million K-12 students.
However, critics - civil rights advocates and business-backed reform groups - say that the flexibility could mean that the additional spending is diverted into other uses, such as raises for teachers. And one of the opposition groups, EdVoice, is asking the Office of Administrative Law to declare that the new rules - which are technically emergency regulations - violate the authorizing legislation enacted last year.
EdVoice has submitted a letter to the OAL, detailing how it believes that the state school board acted beyond its statutory authority.
"The unlawful elements must be cured and ambiguities must be resolved within the formal rulemaking process," Ed Voice president Bill Lucia told the OAL.
PHOTO: Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua