There will be no further appeals in the protracted fight over the closing of high schools by the Palos Verdes Unified School District, say the two groups that have fought against consolidating the district's three intermediate and high schools.
Spokesmen for the groups, the East Peninsula Education Council (EPEC) and Protect Our Peninsula Schools (POPS), said they do not plan to appeal an April 26 Superior Court ruling that found the district had prepared an adequate report on the environmental impact of the school closures. The two groups have spent about $220,000 in legal fees since last summer.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 12, 1991 South Bay Edition Metro Part B Page 5 Column 6 Zones Desk 3 inches; 97 words Type of Material: Correction
Legal fees--A recent article in the South Bay Edition gave an incorrect figure for the amount spent by the East Peninsula Education Council (EPEC) and Preserve Our Peninsula Schools (POPS) to fight school closings and consolidations by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District.
EPEC member Barry Hildebrand said his group has spent about $228,000 on legal fees since November, 1987, to fight the district's school closure plans. POPS declined to release its legal costs, said the group's attorney, Michael Leslie.
A district representative said the school district has spent about $568,000 on legal expenses since December, 1987, to fight the court challenges from EPEC and POPS.
EPEC member Ted Gibbs, whose group has fought for more than three years to keep Miraleste High School open, said his group will not appeal the ruling because further delays would upset any chance of the success for the district's consolidation plan.
"If we slow it down at all, then we'll only hurt the children," he said. "We're going to ask everyone to spend their time, energy and money to make this new configuration work."
However, Gibbs predicted that the consolidation plan will fail.
He said the closure of Miraleste and Palos Verdes high schools will result in overcrowding at the consolidated high school, which will be called Palos Verdes Peninsula High School when it opens this fall on the campus of Rolling Hills High School.
Gibbs said the overcrowding will cause traffic, parking and safety problems, as well as a slackening of educational standards. "This is the beginning of the end of public education on the peninsula," he said.
The other parents' group, POPS, also will forgo an appeal.
"We're convinced that the judge was wrong and that he would be overturned on appeal, but at this point we feel that our energies are better spent pursuing other avenues," said Michael R. Leslie, attorney for POPS.
Leslie said his clients decided it would not be the worth the expense to continue a legal challenge to the district's consolidation plan.
If an appeal had been mounted, Supt. Michael Caston estimated that it would have cost the district from $15,000 to $20,000 in further legal fees. With the court battles behind him, Caston said he is optimistic the district can move ahead, tackling the $3.5-million deficit projected for the district's $30-million 1991-92 budget.
The consolidation plan is designed to trim $2.3 million from the deficit, with another $800,000 coming from central administration cuts, and $400,000 from other savings, he said.
The district has for several years sought to close Miraleste High on the east side of the peninsula, but last year proposed combining the three high schools and closing two intermediate campuses to help balance the budget.
"We're happy to be moving ahead with our consolidation project," Caston said. "That's the main aspect here, our ability to look ahead and see a bright future for the school district."
Under the plan, Ridgecrest and Malaga Cove intermediate school campuses also will be shut. Ridgecrest will relocate to the former Miraleste High School site and will be called Miraleste Intermediate. Malaga Cove will occupy the former Palos Verdes High School site and is being renamed Palos Verdes Intermediate School.