SM City Council Opposes Malibu's Plan to Split SMMUSD

Panel sent letter to LACOE ahead of Saturday’s hearing


September 23, 2021

By Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer

The Santa Monica City Council has gone on the record with its opposition to City of Malibu’s petition to split the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District into two separate districts.

This morning, the Council sent a letter to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and its Committee on School District Organization, calling for its members to deny Malibu’s petition “given that terms are not equitable for all students.”

The Council’s letter follows an LACOE report – released last week – which concluded that eight out of the nine criteria for separation set by the Committee have not been substantially met. City officials said “the analysis clearly illustrates that the proposed reorganization would have a substantial negative effect on the fiscal health of the remaining Santa Monica USD.”

This Saturday, September 18, the Committee on School District Organization will hold a meeting to discuss the LACOE report and decide whether to accept or reject Malibu’s contentious petition.

The hearing will start at 9 a.m. The agenda and participation details for the virtual meeting are available at

Last week, LACOE recommended that Malibu’s petition move forward to the next phase of the process, even though it “does not sufficiently meet” some of financial conditions required for evaluation and approval, according to its committee report.

The report also expresses concern over Malibu's projected low enrollment, diversity and disruption to educational programs, county officials said.

In its letter to LACOE, the Santa Monica Council reaffirmed its support for separation “if terms are favorable to the education advancement of all students.”

The letter states: “Such a denial only terminates the Malibu Petition. It does NOT preclude the communities working together to create an independent Malibu School District in a way that is fair and just to students in Santa Monica schools and that provides a robust and equal educational opportunity for both Malibu and Santa Monica students.”

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Council is expected to approve a formal motion to deny the Malibu’s October 12, 2020 petition to split the into two separate districts “based on the substantial negative effect of the proposed reorganization on the fiscal health of the remaining Santa Monica Unified School District.”

If LACOE approves Malibu’s divorce proposal, it would enter the committee review process, including a staff feasibility study and environmental analysis, and afterward submitted to the state. If the state approves the petition, it will go back to voters for a final vote.


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