The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Challenges new California law

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District administration office in Santa Monica, California. Photo by Samantha Bravo.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is challenging the constitutionality of a new California law. SB 442 is new to the books, enacted on January 1. The new law authorizes the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization to approve a proposal to establish trustee areas and elect governing board members using district-based elections without submitting the resolution to the electors of the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu and the district for approval. 

Santa Monica leaders say they want to keep the long-standing 100-plus year tradition of how they elect their school board members. Now the city of Santa Monica and the SMMUSD has jointly filed a lawsuit against the county committee to keep voting as is with an at-large election for school board members. 

School Board President Maria Leon-Vasquez said in a statement “This case is not about whether SMMUSD Board members should continue to be elected at large or by trustee-area districts. It is about who should be entitled to make that decision.” The school board president added, “The City of Santa Monica and District strongly believe the decision whether to move to trustee-area elections should be made by the residents and voters of SMMUSD, not by a committee composed of unelected representatives with little or no ties to either Santa Monica or Malibu.” Malibu’s only representation on the board, Craig Foster, was not present at the closed session meeting to approve the lawsuit. 

This is a developing story; more details to follow.