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Bill to Break Up L.A. School District Stalls in Assembly

April 22, 1993|HENRY CHU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Foreshadowing a tough battle for proponents of splitting up the giant Los Angeles school district, a state Assembly committee set aside a bill Wednesday that would pave the way for a breakup but approved a competing proposal to preserve the present district by expanding the powers of local school officials.

Because the nine votes needed for passage were lacking, the Education Committee postponed voting on a measure by Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills) that would take the first steps to divide the Los Angeles Unified School District into at least seven independent units.

Boland has until next week to recruit enough votes to push her proposal over its first legislative hurdle, which she conceded would be "a fight."

"It does give us a week to lobby the committee some more," Boland aide Kris Frank said of the decision to defer action.

At the same hearing Wednesday, committee members voted 11 to 1 in favor of a counterproposal by Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) that would preserve the school district but transfer most budgetary authority and decisions on curriculum to principals, teachers and parents at individual campuses. The proposal borrows many features of the widely heralded LEARN plan adopted by the Los Angeles Board of Education last month.

Karnette, a former teacher, said she offered her measure as an alternative to carving up the district, which critics contend will lead to racially segregated school systems.

Advocates of splintering the Los Angeles school system scored an important victory last week when the state Senate Education Committee approved a bill by Senate Leader David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys). Nearly identical to Boland's measure, the Roberti proposal calls for the appointment of a commission to draft a plan for dividing the 640,000-student school district--the nation's second largest--into units of no more than 100,000 students each.

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