Letter: Focus on Your Own

Letter to the Editor

This letter is addressed to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.

I attended the last meeting discussing separation. Have you thought about the opportunity cost to the students of Santa Monica if you were able to focus solely on them? You claim your issue with separation is not about money, but it clearly is. One hundred million dollars isn’t good enough; now you want a 50-year divorce settlement, so my great-granddaughter can pay alimony to Santa Monica? This is greed.

SMMUSD is the 10th wealthiest district—after separation: 11th wealthiest—in California. Your problem isn’t money (you have plenty); it’s how you spend it. Money doesn’t equate to great education, healthy school facilities or good teachers—leadership does. Stop focusing on money and focus on improving math pathways, writing programs, grammar and coding classes.

With Maria Leon-Vasquez’s actions, we are all watching to see if you will make excuses for her or hold her accountable to SMMUSD bylaws. Will you teach students that everyone is accountable to all of the laws? Or will you teach students that those in elected positions are above the law?

If your internal investigation, or the external District Attorney investigation show that Leon-Vazquez or any other board member has violated public trust, I hope you’ll hold them accountable.

This is another example of why Malibu needs its own school board—one we can hold accountable by our vote, the way democracy intended. You can be sure that Malibu citizens will hold the future Malibu Unified School District Board to task, making sure our public servants follow the law, focus their attention on implementing creative ways to engage and improve student education, and that every dollar is wisely spent toward the goal of excellent education for every student.  

It’s reckoning time. Stop letting money corrupt your public service. Santa Monica is a wealthy school district and that won’t change after separation. Malibu children deserve their own democratic process and Santa Monica students deserve your undivided attention. Take this opportunity to clean house in Santa Monica and focus on giving Santa Monica children the safest, best education that the 11th wealthiest school district should be providing. 

Jennifer deNicola