Malibu To File Divorce Papers After Santa Monica Ignores Requests For Fair No-Fault Deal

Written by on October 14, 2020

Malibu is going to the county courthouse to win a divorce from Santa Monica … and win a separate school district.

No … not a lawsuit.

The petition will be heard by an obscure L A County agency … the LA County Board of Education.

The city council voted Monday night to break off so-called friendly talks with Santa Monica … and file legal petitions for a split with the county.

Years of grievances … slights and mismanagement are behind the effort for a separate Malibu school district.

Malibu’s schools were polished jewels academically and physically 20 years ago … and have been wrecked … in the views of many parents and others.

Craig Foster is the only Malibu person to shoehorn a victory among Santa Monica school board voters in years.

He says Santa Monica mismanagement has grievously injured this community … Malibu.


“It’s a city that has had a dramatic dis-enrollment in our public schools due to PCBs …in our schools … which were not properly dealt with with our schools district … certainly not the way we would have dealt with them.

“And we would above voted the school board out in our election and it didn’t even move the needle in their election.

“And now we have had further dis-enrollment from the COVID.

“And now we … AMPS has had … Karen … al of us involved this had had a vision that Malibu’s public schools can be among the best in the entire county.”

Karen Farrer has been working on breaking Malibu out of the Santa Monica dominance for two decades … starting with PTA groups and dozens and dozens of meetings.

She’s on the city council now.

Santa Monica has dragged its feet … time for a split … she says.


“For the last year … the ad hoc committee has been pursuing a three-pronged approach … to separation with the district,.

“At this time based on my position and actions of the district and the financial analysis that our consultants have conducted and presented tonight … I recommend that the city no longer pursue negotiations with SMMUSD.”

On Monday night … the city council heard a lengthy financial report from analysts.

The bottom line … because of the way state funding laws are set up … students in both the Malibu and Santa Monica school districts would get more money on a per capita basis under split districts … than by remaining together.

At the council meeting … this question to LaTanya Kirk Carter… would a separate Malibu district cost the city of Malibu government anything???

The answer … no …


“Unless you willingly wanted … like in the case of another city like Santa Monica …you wanted to enter into some form of recreartion  joint participation funding agreement … something like that that you voluntarily wanted to … your funding is totally sparate from what the school district funding would be.

And would the new Malibu school board be able to raise tax rates??
Analyst Cathy Dominico


“Prop 13 still exists.

“So a new school district would have the ability to ask the voters to authorize a general obligation bond or another type of special tax.

“They could actually authorize a parcel tax … another parcel tax … but it would require another vote.

“It is not something that a future school board could impose on voters without that vote.”

The city of Malibu’s consultants will now prepare the divorce request … which technically is called a unification proposal because it would unify Malibu in a new elementary and high school district.

The L A County Office of Education will make a ruling … which would have to be approved by the state Department of Education.

Malibu is almost the only city in California that is attached to another distant city’s school district … an accident of geography and history.

Avalon on Catalina Island is attached to the Long Beach School District.


And just as 15 percent of the school district trying to bail out … the school district is expanding its headquarters.

One the agenda this week is a proposal to buy a building … next to Santa Monica High School … to become the new district headquarters.

Money for the $21 million purchase will not impact the General Fund … the district says …

they say they can swing the deal by using City of Santa Monica redevelopment agency funding … and by leasing out the District’s current office space.

SMMUSD says the new space would be across Pico Boulevard from Santa Monica High … where one fourth of the district’s kids are enrolled.

The new building has 31,000 square feet of space … compared to 22,000 square feet in the existing office.

One department … currently houses a mile away from the district office … could be brought in under a common roof.

This story is based on reporting in the Santa Monica Daily Press.

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