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Court Lifts 'Cloud' Over Gabrielino High School : Law: New school will remain open. Dispute centered on vote in San Gabriel for new district. Alhambra sought right to participate in decision.


Officials of two local school districts reacted with either relief or disappointment this week in the wake of an appeals court ruling that allows Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel to remain open.

"Everyone has been living in a state of ambiguity," said Gary Goodson, San Gabriel school district superintendent. "It's like a dark cloud has been lifted from over us."

But in Alhambra, school officials had a sharply different view.

"It is very disappointing," said Dora Padilla, member of the Alhambra school board, which earlier this year won a court ruling to block the school's opening. "It's surprising to win one case and then lose another because two judges see it differently."

Gabrielino High School has been at the center of a disagreement between the San Gabriel and the Alhambra City and High School districts since a 1992 election created a new district and paved the way for the school's opening. The dispute centered on the fact that only voters in San Gabriel were allowed to cast ballots in that election even though it also affected Alhambra.

Before Gabrielino High opened this fall, students who lived in San Gabriel attended high school in the Alhambra district. Alhambra administrators opposed the unification, because they stood to lose about 1,200 students over the next four years and as much as $1 million a year in state funding.

In June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Alhambra, declaring the 1992 election unconstitutional because not everyone affected by the measure was allowed to vote.

On Dec. 22, however, the 2nd District Court of Appeals, in overturning the June ruling, said the people in the San Gabriel district had a right to make their own determination on unification and that the election boundaries selected by the state Board of Education were appropriate.

The Alhambra school board plans to meet in January to discuss whether to appeal the case.

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