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Lungren Endorses Breaking Up L.A. School District

October 09, 1998|NICK ANDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tiptoeing into a long-running battle over the nation's second-largest school system, Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren has endorsed breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District but said he would not make it a priority if elected governor.

"If you ask me as a former resident of the county of Los Angeles--although not within the L.A. Unified School District--do I think it is too doggone big for management? Absolutely. If I were a citizen of this city would I be fighting to break it up? Absolutely," Lungren, the Republican nominee and a native of Long Beach told reporters Wednesday in Los Angeles.

But Lungren hedged his endorsement of a district breakup, saying that he would encourage parents and voters to take other steps first.

"I am not going to tell the people of Los Angeles what to do," Lungren said. "I am not going to get in the middle of that huge fight."

Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, has not ruled out support of a district breakup but would seek other reforms to improve schools, a Davis spokesman said Thursday.

Whoever wins the election Nov. 3 could play an important role in the dynamics of any secession movement. The governor appoints the State Board of Education, which would have to decide whether to put a breakup proposal before the voters.

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