Da Vinci + Wiseburn Lease Agreement

Thank you to the entire Da Vinci community for your engagement, feedback and guidance as we navigated ensuring that Da Vinci’s existing lease agreement with Wiseburn Unified School District (WUSD) stays in effect. Throughout this process and each day, our community continues to embody our ethos of small schools with big hearts.

It is significant, and undeniably positive, that Da Vinci and Wiseburn jointly agreed in June that our lease agreement remains in effect, ensuring that Da Vinci Design, Communications, and Science students will continue to use the facilities at 201 N. Douglas Street for the full, 40-year term of the agreement. This is a great outcome for our entire community.

Below, you will find a timeline of key dates and documents, as well as a set of FAQ questions that arose from our community in April and May. This page reflects the current status of our lease agreement and partnership with Wiseburn. To maintain the transparency our community has requested, this page will serve as a hub for information on our ongoing partnership with WUSD.

IN BRIEF (as of May 2023)

Da Vinci supports any and all efforts to provide the Wiseburn community with the school options they want.
  • We stand ready to collaborate with WUSD on a district-operated high school. We don’t believe that should come at the cost of Da Vinci’s existing facilities or schools, especially in terminating our existing, legally binding lease agreement. The 201 Campus is our home. We love our home. And, since 2009, Da Vinci has invested over $60 million in high school facilities.
  • For more information about Da Vinci’s partnership with the Wiseburn Unified School District (WUSD), please refer to the following web pages here and here.
  • For more information about the impact of Da Vinci Schools, please see this page to read our Annual Impact Report.
There is no legal basis for WUSD to terminate our lease.
  • Our lease at 201 N. Douglas has NOT been terminated, and we expect that all three Da Vinci high schools (Da Vinci Communications, Design and Science) will be in the community for the long term.
  • WUSD informed Da Vinci Schools in a letter to CEO/Superintendent Dr. Matt Wunder received on May 9th, 2023, that it seeks to terminate our 40-year lease effective July 1, 2023, for non-cause.
  • Da Vinci believes WUSD has no legal grounds to terminate the lease agreement for non-cause or to displace the Da Vinci schools. Da Vinci will work through these issues, and we plan for normal operations next school year and in the years ahead.
  • The lease, part of the Facilities Use Agreement (FUA) between WUSD and Da Vinci Schools, is in year 9 of 40 and is a legally binding contract with automatic extensions upon charter renewal and further options for renewal.
  • On May 16, 2023, Da Vinci’s legal team officially responded to WUSD’s legal counsel, citing directly from the lease agreement and reinforcing our commitment and right to the facilities that our families depend on.
Da Vinci High Schools ARE Wiseburn’s High Schools.
  • Da Vinci Schools are the Wiseburn community’s high schools of record and have proudly served the Wiseburn community since 2009, gaining global recognition for educational innovation and impact.
  • For historical information about Wiseburn's plan for a district-operated high school back in 2013, including their decision to assign Da Vinci Schools as their dedicated high schools, please see former Superintendent Dr. Tom Johnstone's communication to the Wiseburn community.
The high school that WUSD would like to open is a “WUSD-operated” high school.
  • The formal and publicly announced plan to open a WUSD high school is NEW. Da Vinci's information about a Wiseburn-operated high school is largely from the webpage WUSD launched on May 15, accompanied by a letter from Dr. Silvers.
  • At this time, Da Vinci has not had any discussion with WUSD about a shared high school facility.

On May 9, 2023, Da Vinci received this letter from Wiseburn stating their intent to terminate our forty-year lease. DV responded to that letter through our legal counsel and swiftly communicated the turn of events to our DV community. A series of questions arose within our community as this situation unfolded.

Subsequently, with community input, we promised more transparency, put together these Frequently Asked Questions to provide more information, and engaged in several productive conversations with WUSD leadership which led to a resolution, summarized here in this joint statement.


It seems like the relationship between WUSD and Da Vinci broke down this Spring. Should I be concerned that Da Vinci may not be around in years to come – or long enough for my child to graduate from Da Vinci?

Da Vinci’s award-winning schools are here in our school community for the long-term. We remain committed to our partnership with WUSD and serving our current students, families, and all other interested students and families. And as a public school network, we do and will always support any and all efforts for Wiseburn families to have the options they want and need for their students, including starting their own district-operated high school. Since 2008, we’ve worked effectively in partnership with WUSD to build four DV high schools in Wiseburn.


We care deeply for our students and do not wish any disruption to their school experience. We understand that this information is unsettling; however, we feel transparency about WUSD's actions is important for our community to know. Da Vinci offers extensive support services and resources for all families that prioritize students’ physical and mental wellbeing.  Please connect with your student’s counselor for additional information.

Why did Wiseburn seek to terminate the 40-year lease agreement between WUSD and Da Vinci Schools? Is this lawful?

We worked closely with our legal team and believe the lease agreement between WUSD and Da Vinci that ensures a 40-year lease for our three 201 N. Douglas campus schools cannot be broken. The lease agreement was established in 2015 and is publicly available on our Da Vinci website. WUSD has demanded that Da Vinci turn the existing long-term FUA into a nonexclusive one-year use agreement. Moreover, while Da Vinci supports WUSD’s plans to start a new high school, WUSD has announced they intend to operate the new high school at the 201 N. Douglas location that was constructed with charter school grant money to serve as the exclusive long-term home of the Da Vinci schools. Da Vinci believes WUSD had no legal grounds to terminate the lease agreement or displace the Da Vinci schools.  Da Vinci will continue to work through any issues, and we plan for normal operations next year and in the years ahead.

What would happen if the lease were to be terminated?

We do not believe WUSD can legally terminate the lease agreement for non-cause unilaterally. We made a formal request for WUSD to respect the terms of the agreement, and continue to work with our legal team on next steps as needed.

What can I do to support getting answers from the WUSD Board in the future?

Da Vinci is always current Da Vinci students, parents/guardians, and staff interested in addressing the Wiseburn Board during Public Comments at an upcoming Wiseburn Board Meeting. It's important that Wiseburn Trustees hear from the school community. The purpose of these comments is to share your stories about the great education and opportunities students have at Da Vinci and your concern about WUSD's attempt to terminate Da Vinci Schools' 40-year lease agreement at the 201 Campus.  

We will share additional ways you can support our community in the future. Thank you for supporting Da Vinci Schools!

Was WUSD trying to evict or take over Da Vinci Schools?

The letter we received could undoubtedly be perceived as an eviction though we don’t believe it had legal merit. We had heard from members of the Wiseburn community that the WUSD board had discussed “taking over” one or all of the Da Vinci schools at 201 N. Douglas. We know now that WUSD wants to open a district-operated high school and attempted to terminate our current 40-year lease.

Who owns, funds, and maintains the 201 Campus?

WUSD owns the property at 201 N. Douglas St. In 2015, WUSD and Da Vinci entered into a lease agreement for Da Vinci to lease the property for a 40-year term with renewal options. Both organizations funded the construction of the existing facilities. WUSD contributed $87MM through the Measure AA school bond. Da Vinci contributed $52.4MM through matching funds from the Charter School Facilities Program. Neither organization could fund it on its own. Da Vinci is responsible for 100% of the property's maintenance, repairs, upgrades, and additions.

When will Wiseburn open a district-operated high school and where will it be located?

WUSD has stated that establishing a new high school is a complex process that will span several years. Da Vinci respects Wiseburn's desire to start a district high school, and we are happy to help WUSD open a district-operated high school, just not at the 201 Campus. Both organizations believe strongly in school choice. The issue here is about facility use. Da Vinci has a 40-year lease agreement with renewal options to use the property at 201 N. Douglas St. Wiseburn cannot unilaterally decide to terminate a valid lease agreement for its own use, to move out one or all of the Da Vinci high schools in order to create their own district-operated high school.

Could Wiseburn choose not to re-authorize Da Vinci Communications, Design, or Science to displace a school at the 201 Campus?

This would not be a valid reason to deny the renewal of the Da Vinci charters, which are up for renewal in June 2025. However, the issue at hand is about breaking the lease agreement. Given Da Vinci Schools are award-winning, globally recognized schools, it is unimaginable that the schools would not be renewed. Dr. David Brown, the former WASC accrediting commission executive director, said, “Da Vinci Schools are among the very finest I’ve seen.” Two of Da Vinci’s schools have been named California Distinguished Schools. Getting Smart, one of the nation’s leading educational voices, named Da Vinci one of America's “Top 75” school networks.

Will Wiseburn residents continue to be guaranteed admission into Da Vinci?

Yes. Since 2009, Da Vinci schools are Wiseburn high schools and belong to the Wiseburn community. But beyond what’s shared on the new Wiseburn webpage, we don’t have any information about a potential WUSD-operated high school or its implications. We encourage you to attend a future Wiseburn Board meeting and directly ask the WUSD board for responses to your questions.

What would a district-operated high school offer that Da Vinci Schools currently does not?

We support any and all efforts to provide Wiseburn residents with the high school options they want for their children. We have worked collaboratively with the WUSD leadership team to develop articulated programs that allow students at WUSD TK-8 schools to continue their outstanding educational experience at Da Vinci Schools.  Examples include building robotics/STEM programs, music programs, a CIF athletics program, collaboration on “Rock Around the Block,” and many other programs that reinforce our partnership for the benefit of our students.

What would happen to WDV Athletics, robotics, etc., if Wiseburn opens a district-operated high school?

We will do everything we can to maintain our existing programming. We encourage you to attend a future Wiseburn Board meeting and directly ask the WUSD Board for specific responses to this and any other questions.

Do staff at Da Vinci schools (Science, Design, and Communications) need to worry about job security?

We still do not anticipate any impact on any of our staff, including teachers, at our schools. We acknowledge that this news of lease termination was disconcerting; however, we believe we are on solid legal ground and plan for our normal operations next year and in the years ahead.

How does Da Vinci’s charter authorization and governance structure work?

WUSD authorizes the following Da Vinci Schools in the El Segundo/Wiseburn community: Da Vinci Design, Da Vinci Communications, Da Vinci Science, and Da Vinci Connect. Los Angeles County Office of Education authorizes Da Vinci RISE, which serves students throughout Los Angeles County. Da Vinci must be authorized by a school district or the county office as a charter. The Da Vinci Board comprises four Wiseburn residents and a former Wiseburn Superintendent. We hope to resolve this matter soon and maintain a collaborative working relationship with the District.