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County Panel Hears School Secession Bid

October 09, 1986|CANDY NALL | Times Community Correspondent

LOMITA — A Los Angeles County committee will recommend within 90 days whether Lomita should be allowed to pull out of the Los Angeles Unified School District and set up its own district.

"We in Lomita don't feel we have either a voice or an ear downtown when it comes to how our schools are being run," City Councilman Robert Hargrave said at a hearing this week before the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization.

In addition, residents expressed concerns that test scores in the Los Angeles district and in Lomita schools lag behind those of Torrance and other neighboring districts.

The Los Angeles district opposes secession, in part because it would require the relocation of about 1,500 students who attend Lomita schools but live just outside the city or are bused in from more distant areas. Don Reedy, the Los Angeles district's manager of contractual relations, said students are bused to Lomita Magnet School from as far as Pacific Palisades, more than 20 miles away.

Ethnic Consideration

In addition, Reedy said, secession would result in higher concentration of minorities in Los Angeles schools.

"Right now, the white population at Lomita Magnet is 38%," Reedy told the committee. "If Lomita were to withdraw and busing were to stop, the white population would rise to 66%."

The magnet school, which offers special programs to attract distant students and improve racial and ethnic balance in the district, was a sore point with some residents at the hearing. They complained that several Lomita children, including minority students, had been denied admission to the magnet school and had to attend schools outside their neighborhood.

Started Two Years Ago

The secession movement was started nearly two years ago with the formation of the Committee to Reorganize Lomita's Schools, which gathered the signatures of 25% of the city's estimated 10,000 voters. The next step in the process was Monday's hearing, which drew about 300 residents to Fleming Junior High School.

The 11-member committee will make its recommendation to the state Board of Education, which will decide whether the issue should be put to a public vote.

If the state board approves, it will decide whether the entire Los Angeles district, or just Lomita residents will vote.

The election would probably be in June or November of 1987, said Deborah Simons, the county committee's secretary.

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