YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.A. Parents Organize to Oppose Lomita Secession From City School District

January 11, 1987|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

Fearing that their children's education might suffer, a group of parents is mounting a drive to oppose Lomita's effort to secede from the Los Angeles Unified School District and set up its own district.

The group, composed of about a dozen parents, most of whom live in the Harbor City or Harbor Gateway areas of Los Angeles, plans to mail letters to the state Board of Education to express their opposition to the secession drive. If the Lomita drive is successful, the group maintains, some children who now attend Fleming Junior High School in Lomita but who live outside the community might have to be bused to other schools.

To Seek PTA Support

The group, called Concerned Citizens for Quality Education, also expects to contact local PTA officials to enlist their support.

"What this is all about is to see our children get the best education they can," said Joeann Valle, spokeswoman for the group. "We all have a responsibility to our kids."

Robert Hargrave, a Lomita city councilman and chairman of the group fighting for secession, said that he understands the group's concern that some Los Angeles students might have to be bused, but that he is powerless to do anything about it.

"I wish we could do something about that," he said.

Hargrave also said that if the secession drive is successful and Fleming Junior High is part of the Lomita district, there would be about 400 empty seats at the school. The new Lomita district probably would not object to allowing students presently enrolled in the school to complete their education there, provided the Los Angeles district approved, he said.

Support for Lomita Cause

Concerned Citizens for Quality Education was formed about a month after the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization, overriding strong protests from the Los Angeles Unified School District, recommended that Lomita be allowed to secede from the Los Angeles district.

Officials in the Los Angeles district have maintained that a separate Lomita district would result in a higher concentration of minorities in Los Angeles schools because of Lomita's largely white population.

The committee's recommendation is before the state Board of Education, which will conduct its own study of the proposed secession and decide if it should be put to a public vote.

Neglect Claimed

The Lomita secession drive began about two years ago with the formation of the Committee to Reorganize Lomita's Schools. The group, which maintains that the community's schools have been neglected by Los Angeles district's large bureaucracy, gathered the signatures of 25% of the city's estimated 10,000 voters, the number needed to initiate secession proceedings with the county.

Valle said her group believes that if Lomita were allowed to break away from the Los Angeles district, students that now attend Fleming Junior High but live in communities such as Harbor City could be forced to take buses to other schools. Fleming, she said, is considered a neighborhood school to residents in surrounding communities.

Moreover, she said, the group is concerned because one of three schools now located in Lomita--Lomita Fundamental--is a magnet school that offers special programs for gifted students and attracts pupils from other areas. Students must apply for admittance.

If the secession drive is successful, she said, there is no guarantee that students in the school would be placed in another magnet school.

Valle said the group also believes that the quality of education for Lomita students would decline if the secession drive succeeds because a smaller district might not be able to offer as many special classes or extracurricular activities. Secession proponents disagree, and point to other small school districts that offer a wide variety of classes and programs.

Problem for District

Don Reedy, the Los Angeles district's manager of contractual relations, said 1,350 students are enrolled at Fleming, 953 of whom live outside the city. Because the district does not have enough space in existing nearby schools to accommodate 953 more students, it would have to either bus some of the students to other schools, redraw attendance boundaries to allow them to attend schools in San Pedro or Carson, or hold year-round classes, he said.

Reedy said that of the 757 students who attend the magnet school, 374 live outside Lomita. Many of the district's magnet schools are already at capacity level, and district officials do not know where the students would be sent if the secession drive is successful, he said.

Reedy said the state Board of Education will probably hear the matter in April.

Los Angeles Times Articles