JANUARY 18, 2013 7:32 PM by Ashley Archibald
MALIBU — A study commissioned by parents shows that a Malibu-only school district could meet most of the legal requirements for leaving the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, but many questions remain regarding how the process can move forward.
According to the study, a Malibu Unified School District would have the population and funds necessary to split off, but it would need to prove that it could meet the needs of special and alternative education students and that the majority of Malibu residents were in favor of leaving.
Other issues that would need to be addressed include splitting property between the two new districts and securing special legislation to preserve the Measure R parcel tax, which the report refers to as “crucial to deem the reorganization viable.” Measure R was approved by 73 percent of the voters in 2008 and generated roughly $10.6 million in 2011-12.
Craig Foster, president of Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, which commissioned the study, said that although many questions had yet to be answered, the report showed that the district was capable of meeting the nine criteria prescribed under the Education Code.
“There are no difficult solutions here. We’re committed to making it work,” Foster said.
Members of the Malibu community have been pushing to break away from the existing district for many years, citing a sense that the two communities are too different and geographically separate to work as a single entity.
They have long been upset with the lack of Malibu representation on the board. The last representative from Malibu, Kathy Wisnicki, left the board in 2008.
A slate of three Malibu candidates, including Foster, failed to beat out the three Santa Monica incumbents in the most recent election.
The report was paid for by Malibu parents and created with the cooperation of SMMUSD officials, who promised to work with them to explore the possible split in 2012.
It addresses nine criteria laid out by the Education Code that the Los Angeles County Office of Education will have to consider if a petition to break up the district garners enough signatures from Malibu voters.
That body will make a recommendation which then gets forwarded to the state Department of Education, which can either act on the matter or shelve it perpetually.
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