SMMUSD Fights Malibu Voting District Request, Says Malibu Should Be Placed In One District = Residents Argue For Vote By District = SMMUSD Boss: Voting Issue Has Delayed Divorce By One Year = Foster Blames SMMUSD For $8 Million Fight Against Malibu Over PCB

Written by on February 1, 2024

Santa Monica school board officials said last night … the answer to political representation problems is getting rid of Malibu as soon as possible.

That was the upshot of last night’s public hearing … by a committee set up by Los Angeles County school overseers. 

The longstanding school board majority … trying to fight a legal demand from Malibu that the district be divided into seven voting districts. 

Malibu is biting off an unfair chunk of the Santa Monica school board. 

That’s the accusation from Santa Monica school board members

Yesterday… The county held a hearing on a petition from Malibu activists. Malibu not only wants to break up the santa monica Malibu district in the seven voting areas… They want two of those voting areas to have Malibu majorities.

The school district has been using tax dollars to fight that petition.

First… They sued the county and claimed that the santa monica city charter overrides state law.

The courts tossed that out.

Now… Santa monica claims that the county cannot give Malibu to voting majority seats.

Instead… Santa monica wants to cram all of Malibu into one district .. and have the other six in Santa Monica. 

Here is school board attorney Frederick Loucher … paid for by Santa Monica Malibu school taxes but representing only the Santa Monica board members.


“Why did this petition have two non-contiguous districts? I mean, we could understand why you might say ‘we thought based on the population we had to have one … we didn’t wanna have Malibu that much larger than all the other districts and so we tried to equal them.’

“But two?

“Well isn’t it a coincidence that if you look at the size of those two trusty areas that are created they just happen to have each of them a majority of Malibu residents?”

The voices from Malibu … activists … clear on their intent … 

Get out of Santa Monica … and force vote district voting in what’s left of the San ta Monica.

Here are their voices. 

Jennifer Denicola:


“There are four specific school board members who live within a few blocks of each other. 

“And they are using taxpayer funds, our education, money, to fight you guys about trustee elections, because they are afraid of losing their political power. “And that is just is terrible, it is terrible for our democracy, it’s terrible for Santa Monica, and it’s terrible for everybody.

Melissa Solana:


“We need to embrace a trustee district in order for all voices to be heard … (to have) all students and their families feel supported … to have accountability.

“And their needs to be met. We need balance and equality. It’s my peoples cry for help. My children deserve it, and their children too, 

“No more divide come together.

“Tenémos que cambíar las injustíces y celébrar que solos al fín unídos.

“We must end the injustice and celebrate, coming together as a united front.”

 Jane Albrecht:


“The fact that there were not one representative on the school board form alibi says it all.

“And it’s difficult for us to get someone elected.

“SMMUSD has indicated that ‘you guys shouldn’t do this,’ because they don’t like the maps.

“But they could have – and didn’t – submit maps of their own.

“To me, that says very clearly: they just don’t want this voting to happen even if separation of schools is to happen. 

“In the meantime, we don’t know when that’s gonna happen. We don’t know if it’s gonna happen.”

Karen Farrer:


“The proposed trustee area maps were prepared by a recognized expert demographer who are you heard from tonight.

“The SMMUSD Board of Education’s claim that the maps are not legal, not fair, not acceptable because they propose geographically discontiguous areas is noteworthy for its hypocrisy. 

“How is it that the Board of Education has no issue with the fact that the district itself is composed of geographically discontinuous areas?”

There was no decision last night… There is a second public hearing two weeks from Saturday in Santa Monica.

One legal question is whether the county committee is forced to choose from Malibu’s preferred maps … or if it can draw up its own map.

And one practical question… Will santa monica and Malibu divorce before any of this really matters?


Board President Says Pointless Vote By District Request Means A One Year Delay In Independence

The Creation of an independent Malibu school district has been delayed at least one year … by the drive by some Malibu activists to force voting by geographic areas on Santa Monica voters.

That is the charge from school board president Jon Kean. 

He testified last night that Malibu activists have shot themselves in the foot … and delayed school district independence … by embracing the vote-by-district drive.

Jon Kean last night:


“The only way to get local control the only way to get local control is to create a local school district, not this petition.

“In fact, had it not been for this hearing, and the one next week, we would be sharing the results of years of collaborative work that the unification subcommittees of the City, of, Malibu and SMMUSD.

“A long sought-after solution was ready to be presented to the residence of both communities. 

“This open and collaborative project is now delayed at least one year by this process and these hearings.”

Kean also pointed out that … if the Malibu petition for voting by district is approved … the maps would have to be thrown out in just a few months.


“The petition and the map are a distraction from unification. 

“Even if they were approved, there would not be elections for the areas created before new maps would have to be drawn due to the creation of a Malibu unified school district. 

“To these residents tonight local Malibu residence who are listening tonight, rather than speaking out against this petition, as a result of threats and intimidation — that we have been able to verify from a very small part of this community — rest assured: we will work to create an independent Malibu school district and an independent santa monica school district. 

“This is where attention should be — not on gerrymandered maps and not on misinformation.”


Craig Foster Blames SM Power Structure For $8 Million In Lawyer Waste Fighting Malibu Parents Over PCB

You might want to take that with a grain of salt.

A damning indictment on the Santa Monica school board came last night … from former board member Craig Foster …. 

We are going to play for you a long segment of Foster’s speech last night.

In it … he accuses the current Santa Monica board majority of spending 8 million dollars in legal fees to fight Malibu parents … who wanted the middle school campus and high school campus cleaned of cancer causing chemicals … PCBs … a decade ago.

Craig Foster.


“With just over 15% of SMMUSD’s voters (in Malibu), if a candidate gets every single vote in Malibu, they need twice as many votes in Santa Monica or they lose. 

“In 2012, after four years without a Malibu school district member, three of us Malibu residents ran against three Santa Monica residents. 

“We won and Malibu and they won Santa Monica. 

“They won all three seats in 2014. 

“I did win after six years with no Malibu representative (on the school board).

“But I had to raise and spend more than twice the (amount of the) nearest competitor and more than had ever been raised before, and I ran my entire campaign in Santa Monica.

“And even having won that election, every day, in every position I took, I had to remember that Malibu’s ability to even have a voice on that school board was at the sufferance of Santa Monica.

“For eight years on the SMMUSD board, I was a consistent advocate for trustee area, elections to absolutely no success.

“For them, trustee area elections means sharing their power, and they are unwilling to cede any power.”

Craig Foster … former Santa Monica Malibu school board member … continued:


“What I have learned in my time on the SMMUSD school board, is that imposing their will, retaining political power, is their greatest value. 

“Lawyers are their first recourse.

“No sum of money is too large to impose that will.

“Any argument that suits their purposes on any given day is the argument they make.

“And for them, justice delayed is justice denied.

“This is not a cautionary tale. It’s a game plan.

“When I joined the board, they were in the process of spending what would end up to be nearly $8 million in legal fees — legal fees to keep — to keep students in carcinogenic PCB-riddled Malibu schools.

“$8 million that should’ve been … could’ve been spent … on educating students.

“Let’s look at the most-current example: After 40 years of pretending geography was no factor at all in SMMUSD, in their January 16 submission to you, they say contiguity is not just a grace note in the score of democracy, it is crucial, both practically, and theoretically.

“SMMUSD as you have heard is noncontiguous. They have fought for decades to maintain that non-contiguity. 

“Now, suddenly, they are concerned with contiguity. 

“They will say anything —  do anything — spend any amount of money — to preserve their power, however absurdly contradictory and against the educational mission that might be.

“My main message to you tonight is: please save SMMUSD from itself.

“They’ve hired lawyers instead of demographers.

“They have sued you.

“They will fight trustee-area elections to the last drop of their general fund, but it won’t be the incumbent board members to bear the brunt of their selfish decisions.

“It will be the students.”

Craig Foster … former Santa Monica Malibu school board members … at last night’s county ed board committee meeting.

We should note that the old buildings at Malibu High have mostly been torn down … the PCBs completely removed.

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