In the 1860s, Columbus Tustin bought 839 acres (3.40 km2) of land to found the city of Tustin. In 1872, he built a schoolhouse and donated to the community, founding what was then called the Sycamore School District. In 1889, the district was renamed the Tustin School District. In 1922, Tustin Union High School opened separately, finally merging with the Tustin School district in 1972 to create the Tustin Unified School District.
Controversy/Lawsuits With the City of Tustin (Heritage School)
Heritage Elementary school was built within the Tustin Legacy in 2010 but isn't currently being used for its intended purpose, it is currently being used as administrative offices and is the "temporary location" for Tustin Adult Schol / Sycamore High School, a continuation high school program. Originally TUSD requested conveyance of the Heritage Elementary site at no cost. The Navy who held title to the property agreed and conveyed the property in 2003 with the exception that it would be used as an educational facility. After receiving conveyance a community facilities district (CFD 06-1) was formed and tax payers started to pay a Mello-Roos tax. In 2007-2008 when the great recession hit, development at Tustin Legacy slowly started to decline and Construction completely stopped at the end of 2009. Knowing there was only a small tract of homes built on the Legacy and knowing that construction was at an indefinite stand still, TUSD proceeded to build Heritage Elementary. On 2/18/2010 the TUSD filed suit against the City of Tustin for among other things delaying the issuance of permits to build Heritage Elementary School- interfering in the completion of Heritage after the Department of Education gave the District a completion date to commence construction by, or ownership of the property would be taken from the District. In Article III of the complaint entitled Factual Background, TUSD alleges that the City of Tustin doesn't want the District to build a new elementary school on the Heritage site and that the City would rather see the District use its limited funds to build a new school at another site that the City has designated for an elementary school on the eastern side of the Tustin Legacy project. TUSD also states in their complaint "However, no infrastructure (streets, utilities, etc.) is likely to exist for this other site for many years to come and the District cannot afford to wait any longer to build Heritage". In a FAQs document on 3/19/2010, regarding the lawsuit- TUSD states "The elementary schools surrounding the former Tustin marine Base are now filled to capacity and enrollment is continuing to grow each year". On 8/16/2011 The City of Tustin files suit against the TUSD alleging the School District failed to comply with the CEQA in approving eleven separate activities on a number of different campuses. The lawsuit also sought to prevent TUSD from converting the newly completed Heritage Elementary School to a continuation high school in violation of three of the City's genral/reuse/master plans. The city also states that the first time the public heard of this plan was July 12, 2011- after the proposal was stamped by the Board of Trustees. The district provided no notice or public comment period, held no public hearing and failed to even inform homeowners in CFD 06-1 (Columbus Square). On 7/27/2011 TUSD wrote a general letter about Heritage, stating the opening of Heritage School has been postponed; the duration of the delay being contingent on future residential development. Stating that opening Heritage at this time is not academically or financially prudent. TUSD states that in light of these facts, and to avoid having Heritage School sit idle and be subject to non-use and possible vandalism, the District will utilize the facility for alternative purposes on an interim basis. This includes temporarily relocating Hillview High School (behind Foothill High) and Sycamore High School (an independent study program near Tustin High), to Heritage School, while campus modernization projects at Foothill and Tustin high schools, as part of their Master Plans, take place. TUSD and the City of Tustin eventually settled and racked up millions of dollars in legal expenses. The children in Columbus Square don't have a K-12 school to call their own. The tax payers have paid about 12 Million Dollars in taxes to build the school with a growing surplus of funds and the Continuation Schools are still in operation. The Children within Columbus Square are currently scattered throughout schools within the district.