Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is scheduled to hold its first meeting of the new academic year this Thursday, and the board of education is expected to approve a plan detailing the district’s reopening plan for the Fall 2020 semester.

The planned presentation will include information about SMMUSD’s reopening plan and the results of a parent survey, which were recently highlighted during the district’s town hall events in June and early last week. Discussion on the Major Action Item is expected to last approximately 180 minutes, according to Thursday’s agenda, which lists a number of other items set to be discussed Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

The first Major Action Item listed on the agenda this week pertains to the Resolution No. 20-01 – Recognition of the First Week of February as Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.

Last month, while Samohi seniors were busy organizing a local Juneteenth celebration, a petition circulated by local residents called for SMMUSD to institute a Black Lives Matter week of celebration at all district schools. After garnering hundreds of signatures, current students and SMMUSD alumni took the podium to share their ideas with the board.

If all goes all planned, the first week of February will be celebrated as Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, according to the agenda, which states: “(SMMUSD) has long been concerned about providing equity and opportunity for all students and ensuring the success of all students.”

“Members of our community have requested that we follow the lead of other districts that have recognized the first week in February as, ‘Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action,’” the agenda adds. “Staff believes that having Black Matters Week provides another valuable opportunity to involve students and staff in addressing the vestiges of racism in an intentional way.”

Interdistrict Attendance policies

The discussion surrounding SMMUSD’s interdistrict permit policies has been ongoing since December 2019 and it’s likely to continue into Thursday evening, according to the agenda.

Interdistrict permits allow students living outside district residential boundaries to attend a SMMUSD campus, but since the district is transitioning to a basic aid funding model, schools will no longer receive state funding for transfers.

Board members previously proposed that the district tweak its annual verification method, but a lengthy discussion about possibly cutting two low-priority permit categories prompted SMMUSD to postpone a decision until its next meeting.

On March 5, the board held a second discussion regarding the proposed language changes and directed staff to move forward with reordering the permit priority categories; however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the state to enforce Stay at Home orders beginning March 19, and board leadership directed staff to postpone any non-essential items from upcoming board meeting agendas.

“Now, that our district is preparing for enrollment for 2020-21, however,” the agenda states, “the changes to BP and AR 5117 need to be formalized with board action.”

brennon@smdp.com