I am saddened and outraged about the political propaganda video that SM-MUSD sent to parents, teachers, staff and community members attacking Malibu’s effort to form its own school district.

This highly produced video, filled with falsehoods, was paid for with School District taxpayer money, a portion of which comes from Malibu families.

Among other distortions, the SM-MUSD projected a loss of revenue without accounting for the loss of Malibu students. The video also falsely states that school separation would force SM-MUSD to cut funding for English learners and at-risk students, as well as special education programs. The truth is that the federal government requires school districts to provide services to vulnerable populations and provides dedicated funding for them. SM-MUSD would not see any reduction in funding for these programs on a per-student basis.

The City and SM-MUSD both agree that we should have separate school districts; the only question is how to separate in a way that is fair and equitable for both and will not harm any students.

After years spent negotiating with SM-MUSD on the financial terms of separation, the City petitioned the County to form an independent school district, based on California’s school finance principles, and in a way that would not harm students in either district.

In May 2021, the City again asked SM-MUSD to return to the negotiation table with an independent, third-party mediator, and the District has still not responded to the City’s offer. Instead, they attack the City and misrepresent its petition.

Malibu is a small, rural, residential community 20 miles from Santa Monica, separated by the City of Los Angeles, with its own values and needs. We have only sought to have local control over the education of our children and to address the inequities in the programs that the District offers in Santa Monica and Malibu.

As a parent of students who attended SM-MUSD schools and a founding member of Malibu’s school separation effort, I have seen firsthand how our students’ educations have suffered because they did not have access to programs and resources including art, music, afterschool programs, and tutoring that were offered exclusively in Santa Monica.

This video is yet another example of SM-MUSD using taxpayer dollars against the best interest of its Malibu students and parents.

Get the real facts at MalibuCity.org/MUSD.

Karen Farrer, Councilmember, City of Malibu