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'Stealth' Changes in School Lease

June 18, 1992

Whoever engineered the "stealth" changes to the lease of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District's Malaga Cove Intermediate School, with its spectacular location on the ocean bluffs, should be fired.

When the school board negotiated the terms of the lease in public session, they agreed to a five-year term--but gave the lessees first right of refusal for the next 10 years. Representatives of the prospective lessees (two private schools) were in attendance and did not object.

Supt. (Michael) Caston reassured the board that these private schools would not siphon off students from the district, because if they did, the board would not renew their leases in five years.

But, when the final draft was drawn up, the district's attorney changed the term from five years to 15 years, without the superintendent's knowledge (or so he claims). This change could cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet a majority of the board approved the lease without any knowledge that the terms had been changed.

Why didn't the district's attorney, who was at the May 4 and May 6 meetings, inform the board and the public that the terms had been changed? You can't secretly slip changes into a 15-page contract and then pretend that the contract is valid!

Paragraph 4.0 of the lease agreement must be restored to the version that was given to the board and the public on May 4. And the district's law firm (or whoever is responsible) must be held liable.

JANET McAULEY

Palos Verdes Estates

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