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Region : LOMITA : Petition Advances District's Push to Leave L.A. Unified

March 31, 1994|LISA RICHARDSON

The group working to see Lomita secede from the Los Angeles Unified School District and manage its own schools has submitted a petition to county officials with enough signatures to require the county to either reject or endorse the effort.

The Committee to Unify Lomita's Schools recently delivered a petition with 3,099 signatures to Los Angeles County officials. At least 2,400 signatures were required as a first step toward gaining educational autonomy.

County officials have 20 days to verify the signatures and another 60 days to have a public hearing on the issue. After the hearing, the county has 120 days to determine whether it will advance Lomita's effort to the State Department of Education.

"The community is very anxious," said Cindy Grant, one of three chief organizers of the petition drive. "If we could have (our own) district tomorrow, we'd be delighted."

The group's main complaint is that Los Angeles Unified is too big and unwieldy to address the needs of Lomita, a community of 19,000.

The campaign marks the second time in eight years that Lomita has tried to secede from Los Angeles Unified. Its previous attempt reached the state level but died because state officials determined that by withdrawing its mostly white students, Lomita would undermine Los Angeles Unified's desegregation efforts.

The racial makeup of Lomita, however, has changed in recent years from almost entirely white to 60% white and 40% minority.

If the effort is successful, Lomita would create a new school district of about 2,000 students. The district would include Eshelman Avenue Elementary and Lomita Elementary, a magnet school. Fleming Middle School would become a combined junior and senior high school.

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