Dear parents and staff,

The City of Malibu, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and many agencies and organizations, are moving to the next phases of recovery following what some are calling the worst disaster in the history of Malibu.

We are thankful that our families and staff are safe. We are sad to learn that more than 150 in our SMMUSD family have reported loss or damage to their homes. It has been heartwarming to see the generosity and love shown by residents, local businesses, staff, parents and PTA, to support those displaced and affected by the fire. We are continuing to provide support in a variety of ways, including hosting the Friendsgiving gathering at Samohi last night. More than 400 people attended this warm and welcoming event. We are proud of our Malibu teachers who have spent countless hours pulling together this large-scale event in only a few days. They did so because they deeply care about our families and staff.

As the district grapples with the impact of displaced families, and the fire, smoke and ash that affected our schools, our goals are as follows:

  1. Professionally clean and test our schools to ensure our facilities are clean and healthy for

the return of students and staff, prior to reopening. 2. Reopen all four Malibu schools as quickly as possible, once the school sites are conducive for our students and staff to return. 3. Implement erosion-control measures as needed at schools in anticipation of rain. 4. Continue to provide supervision and academic opportunities for families displaced or still

evacuated. 5. Welcome displaced Malibu students to our open schools. 6. Provide recommendations for ongoing education during closures for families who are

interested in pursuing this option. 7. Provide ongoing emotional support and resources to our staff and students suffering as a result of this tragedy. 8. Continue to engage Malibu schools leadership, Malibu City officials, Malibu Facilities District

Advisory Committee, Malibu Schools Leadership Council, Malibu PTA and site council members, Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, school staff, teachers and community members, regarding plans to resume school and recovery efforts.

Here are the details set forth to achieve our goals:

  1. Professional cleaning and testing:

We are working with a certified professional cleaning company, experienced in cleaning and restoration, along with environmental specialists, industrial hygienists and other experts, to ensure our schools are safe for students and staff upon reopening.

We plan to conduct air quality testing prior to the restart of school for lead, asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

For those interested in more details, please see the Scope of Work for cleaning and evaluating the environmental safety of the Malibu school sites.

  1. School opening tentative plan:
  • Webster Elementary School – Wednesday, November 28
  • Point Dume Marine Science School – Monday, December 3
  • Juan Cabrillo Elementary School – between December 3-5, pending results of PCB testing*
  • Malibu High School – between December 4-10, pending results of PCB testing*

* PCB testing and results will add up to five days to the reopening of school, following thorough cleaning.

Please let us know your plans for return when our schools reopen by submitting this survey. One survey per student, please. This will help us best determine needs for returning students and staff.

Bus needs: If you plan to return to your home school, but are residing in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades or Malibu, please indicate on the survey whether you would like district busing, if available.

  1. Erosion control measures:

Rain is in our forecast and we plan to protect our schools from mud and debris flow. We are concerned about this and will ensure students are safe in the case of rain.

  • Sandbags will be deployed on November 26.
  • A temporary fence will be installed at Cabrillo on November 26.
  • Environmentally-friendly straw wattles will be installed for slope stabilization.
  1. Supervision available at Webster for K-12 beginning Wednesday, November 28 for

Malibu students not attending Webster, until the other schools reopen. Please fill out one form per student needing supervision.

Supervision continues at Olympic High School for Malibu students preschool-12th grade for the week of November 26. Please submit this form to let our staff know your student plans to attend. Lunch will be provided to students who are checked in by 9:30 am.

  1. Displaced families have the immediate option of resuming education for their students temporarily at any open SMMUSD school, or at school districts closer to where they are currently staying. This includes Webster Elementary once the school has opened. Contact the nearest school office for registration.
  2. We are hearing of some concerns regarding lost instruction time during the current school

closures. The California Department of Education makes exceptions in cases of emergency regarding lost time. SMMUSD will be submitting forms requesting that school not be extended beyond the planned date of June 12, 2019. Consideration to delay finals and the end of first semester is being discussed now. The first semester is 81 days and the second semester is 99 days, which provides the opportunity to adjust the end of the semester.

While schools are closed, we recommend that our students continue reading their favorite books. In addition, we encourage them to journal and/or draw as a means by which to express their feeling and thoughts. Students can also explore the various supplemental resources offered through Khan Academy to support their learning:

Our compassionate faculty will be taking into consideration loss of access to the curriculum, resources and materials. We are working to extend a high degree of flexibility with respect to assignments and grades. Due to the constraints of AP testing, teachers are taking every consideration for student needs and are developing a plan of action to support students. More information will be provided soon from the MHS staff and Malibu elementary schools regarding independent study and remote / online learning options.

For Malibu High School seniors, College and Career Counselor Ms. Nguyen is in touch with students to make sure they stay on track with college applications. UC and CSU campuses have extended the deadline for applications, as have some private schools, including USC. Ms. Nguyen has made herself available in multiple locations and will continue to do so to support our seniors, as well as all students. Please contact her at with any questions or to make an appointment with her even as school remains closed.

For students with disabilities in our Malibu schools, district and school site teams are collaborating to plan supports that can be provided in the interim and when students return to school.

  1. Resources:

We have compiled some immediate resources covering shelter, transportation, and mental health services that are listed below. There are also links on the resource page to several articles on how to talk to young people about wildfires, plus additional resources. We will be updating the resources on school websites as new resources emerge that have been vetted by the district as legitimate and reliable. School psychologists are available now for support.

If you need further help connecting to crisis or ongoing counseling, contact Shuli Lotan, SMMUSD Mental Health Counseling Coordinator, at or 310-395-3204 ext. 71519.

Emotional support will be available for students in need at school sites when schools reopen, and at Boys and Girls Club locations in Malibu when they reopen, in conjunction with schools reopening.

We have received an outpouring of support from our SMMUSD community. The Boys and Girls Club of Malibu is currently coordinating monetary donations to Malibu families in need. You can donate at The Santa Monica College Foundation has also set up a Malibu Fire Relief website to support SMMUSD families and staff. PTA groups in Santa Monica are formulating plans to help and support Malibu families and staff. More information will be provided soon. The California Teachers Association has set up a SMMCTA Go Fund Me page specific for our teachers who lost homes.

Our district leadership team, along with Malibu school administrators, has our Emergency Operations Center activated continually and will continue to do so in the coming days, weeks and months.

We encourage you to follow us @MalibuPathways and the Malibu Schools Pathway Facebook page, download our Santa Monica-Malibu USD mobile app and sign up for City of Malibu alerts for roads and community conditions.

As we enter this season of giving, I want to express my thanks to all our staff and parents who support student achievement throughout the year, and continue to do so during this time of difficulty. I am thankful to be part of two communities that have joined together to help and support each other and our students.

I wish all families and staff a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.


Dr. Ben Drati Superintendent

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