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Malibu Petition to Split from School District Stays on Track

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By Jorge Casuso

September 20, 2021 -- A key County Committee voted overwhelmingly Saturday to keep alive Malibu's proposal to separate from the School District.

The 8 to 2 vote by the County Committee on School District Organization -- which capped a three and a half hour meeting -- gives Malibu six months to provide enough information to "substantially" meet eight of the nine conditions imposed by State law.

The decision was staunchly opposed by both the School District and the City of Santa Monica, which argued that the separation would create an overwhelmingly white Maiblu District and financially harm a stand-alone Santa Monica District.

Officials also argued that continuing to be embroiled in the contentious process distracts from continuing efforts to address the coronavirus emergency.

After the meeting, School District officials said they "are not optimistic about any major developments occurring" in the six-year-long effort.

“We have been in talks for years with the City and the City of Malibu’s position has remained consistent in seeking an inequitable distribution of financial resources,” said School Board President Jon Kean.

“Our district will continue fighting for the students of both communities and urge education leaders in Malibu to inject themselves into the city’s process in order to assist them in understanding why their proposal is flawed.”

Saturday's vote, which came after acrimonious testimony from both sides, launches what could be a years-long process that gives Malibu six months to address the shortcomings in its proposal before the Committee votes again.

Among the eight conditions Malibu must still meet are that the split will not have a significant impact on the two separate districts and will not promote ethnic discrimination or segregation ("Proposed Malibu Split Fails to Meet County Conditions, Report Finds," September 7, 2021).

If the Committee votes to approve the proposal next March, it must still undergo environmental review, which can take up to two years.

Given it gets the go-ahead, the petition must then be approved by the State Board of Education, which could take several more years.

The petition would then be placed on he ballot for a public vote by either Malibu or District voters at large, a decision that would have to be made.

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