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School Redistricting Hearings Resume Wednesday


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By Lookout Staff

January 30, 2024 -- Hearings to divide the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District into trustee areas will resume in Malibu on Wednesday, one year after a redistricting plan was submitted by supporters.

The meeting of the LA County Committee on School District Organization will take place at 6 p.m. at the Malibu Campus of Santa Monica College, 23555 Civic Center Way, in Malibu, followed by a meeting in Santa Monica next month.

Both hearings will only focus on the voting map submitted as part of a petition to change how School board members are elected and "its conformity with statutory requirements," the committee said.

The format of the hearings comes after the Committee approved modifications for petitions involving the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) in school districts whose elections are governed by a city charter, according to Wednesday's agenda.

"One of the changes is the consideration of the petition, separately from the consideration of the petition’s map, receiving distinct evaluations rather than combined into one singular public hearing," the agenda states.

"If the County Committee does not approve either the petition or the petition’s map as submitted, an additional sequence of public hearings will not be held, and the current petition’s process will terminate."

After the hearings, the committee can either render a vote or request information from the parties involved, according to the agenda.

The hearing resume after a lawsuit was filed by the District and the City of Santa Monica to delay the process failed.

Filed in March 2022, the lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of SB 442, a State law that went into effect at the start of that year allowing the County Committee to create districts without voter approval.

The lawsuit delayed the Committee's review of the petition signed by more than 500 qualified Santa Monica and Malibu voters to replace at-large elections with seven districts, possibly in time for the November 2022 election.

Proponents of the plan argue that the School Board has long had a disproportionate number of members from the wealthy north side of Santa Monica.

Opponents counter that under the District's at-large elections, Malibu residents and Latino Santa Monica residents have been elected for most of the past three decades.

For instructions on how to join Wednesday evening's meeting, click here

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