School board passes 11th hour budget, responds to racial incident


With just under a half hour left until their legal deadline ended at midnight, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District unanimously approved Thursday evening a $114.9 million operating budget for the 2011-2012 school year. The district’s general fund is projected at about $3.2 million less than that for 2010-2011.

More than 3 hours of the meeting featured an emotional and powerful discussion between board members and the public over an alleged hate crime from May 4, when two white Santa Monica High School students were said to have tied up a black member of their wrestling team. Board members agreed to implement new measures of fostering relations between minority students and the community, under the guidance of new superintendent Sandra Lyon. She replaced on July 1 Tim Cuneo, who officially retired from his post after the meeting.

A press release by SMMUSD detailed the steps the board had agreed to take regarding the alleged racial incident:

1. Reexamine the district’s curriculum regarding diversity, tolerance and racial and ethnic sensitivity

2. Include racial and ethnic sensitivity training for district administrators and staff

3. Reexamine the district’s relevant disciplinary policies

4. Reconstitute the Intercultural District Advisory Committee

5. Provide the “necessary and appropriate support” to the students affected by the incident during the summer and upcoming school year.

The board requested that staff provide an update within 60 days regarding implementation of these steps. The press release stated that the board also plans to conduct its own investigation into the incident, which is also being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Monica Police Department.