County officials will hear the second round of arguments over splitting the local school district this weekend.

The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization will hold a virtual hearing on Saturday, September 18 at 9 a.m. This is the second time county officials will have heard the proposal and the first since a report said Malibu’s request did not meet eight of nine conditions.

The City of Malibu has filed the petition with the Los Angeles County Office of Education asking for Malibu to be severed from Santa Monica. The concept of a split district has been debated for years and while Santa Monica officials have said they support Malibu’s independence in theory, the two sides have not been able to come to terms on finances for the two-district plan.

Malibu officials claim the city is neglected by the Santa Monica dominated school board despite disproportionately funding the district through high property tax revenues. They have said Malibu has no shared identity with Santa Monica and should not be forced to participate in a joint education system.

SMMUSD has said Malibu students have excellent educational outcomes and ample opportunities. In their opposition to the proposal, the district has said a Malibu district would violate guidelines on diversity, lack enough enrollment to be sustainable and jeopardize programs for the district’s most vulnerable students by undermining long-term funding.

The County regulators issued a report last week stating the current proposal only meets one of nine conditions for splitting a district.

Proposals should meet standards for enrollment, community identity, division of property, racial equity, cost to the State, educational outcomes, infrastructure costs, property values and ongoing fiscal health.

The report states Malibu’s proposal fails to meet enrollment, identity, racial and fiscal health requirements. It states the proposal does not meet the other conditions but stipulates those failures are based on a lack of information and additional study is needed to make a final determination. The proposal’s one success was a judgment that it was not being submitted solely to raise property tax revenues.

While staff concludes the proposal does not meet eight of the nine criteria, the report still recommends the proposal advance to the next stage of analysis as many of the failed criteria require additional information and study to make a final decision. The report also states the staff analysis is not the final determination.

“The County Committee may find all, a majority or some of the conditions met and still vote to deny the proposal. Similarly, the County Committee may find that none, few or some of the conditions are met, yet still has authority to vote to approve the proposal. The County Committee’s authority lies in its assessment of what is best for this specific situation and proposal, both in regard to individual Conditions and in the totality of the proposal, and its overall assessment that the Nine Conditions are substantially met.”

Malibu officials said they are confident they can remedy the failed criteria while the District has said the proposal is fatally flawed.

In an April hearing, County officials asked no questions of the two sides and instead received presentations of equal length before taking exactly one hour of public comment from proponents and opponents of the proposition.

Visit https://www.lacoe.edu/Business-Services/News-Announcements/ID/867/Public-Hearings to watch the Saturday hearing.

editor@smdp.com