Published Online: March 22, 2010

L.A. Unified to Halt Out-of-District Transfers

The superintendents of three Los Angeles County school districts are planning a joint appeal to their Los Angeles Unified counterpart in a bid to keep some 3,000 city students who collectively bring in millions of dollars in state funding to their districts.

Culver City, Santa Monica-Malibu and Las Virgenes are three of the districts that will be hardest hit by LAUSD's decision this week to rein in its liberal inter-district permit policy, which this school year released more than 12,200 city students to surrounding districts at a loss of $51 million in state funding.

"We're working almost as a consortium," said Culver City Unified Superintendent Myrna Rivera Cote. "We're planning to send an appeal to LAUSD. We'll see what we can do."

LAUSD's decision comes as the district faces a $640 million budget deficit and the possibility of several thousand teacher layoffs in the fall.

Because of the bleak financial picture, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his district can no longer afford to lose the $4,900 per pupil the state pays the district by releasing students to other school systems.

Cortines said that although he recognizes all school districts are suffering massive cutbacks in state funding, LAUSD's budget deficit is the largest. He added that the district has made huge strides in its academic offerings, including magnet schools, small learning community campuses and several California Distinguished Schools, as well as 87 new schools.

"It is time to bring these students home," he said.

Exemptions will be made for parents who work in other cities where their children attend school and for students who are completing their final year in elementary, middle and high schools. Other applications will be made on an individual basis.

Parents also have the option of appealing a rejection to the Los Angeles County Department of Education.

In Culver City, more than 1,000 permit students from LAUSD would be affected by the new policy, about 15 percent of the district's enrollment of 6,700, Cote said. The district would lose about $5.7 million in state funds.

"On top of all the insanity caused by cuts from Sacramento, we've been punched pretty hard," Cote said.

Las Virgenes and Santa Monica-Malibu districts would also lose about 1,000 students each.

Torrance Unified School District stands to lose the most students — it takes in about 1,700 students from Los Angeles, more than 8 percent of district's enrollment, said district spokeswoman Tammy Khan. Khan said it was premature to say what effect it would have on the district.

But Cote noted that LAUSD's decision comes after the March 15 deadline to issue pink slips to teachers, so districts may end up with extra teachers in the fall.

She has already fielding calls from angry parents.

"Once they come here, they're part of the community," Cote said.

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