L.A. County committee gives preliminary approval to Sagebrush transfer

Glendale News-Press
May 3, 2017
By Kelly Corrigan

Four years after citizens renewed a decades-long effort to transfer the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge into the La Cañada Unified School District, the area could be stripped from Glendale Unified’s jurisdiction following a decision Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization.

The committee voted to give preliminary approval to a petition to transfer the territory into La Cañada Unified’s boundaries during an hours-long meeting at the Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey.

Tom Smith, a former Sagebrush resident now living in Chicago, started working with neighbors several years ago to transfer the territory.

“It’s something— our friends — our neighborhood — they’ve been fighting for this for 50 years, and to see us get this much of a step closer … I’m just thrilled for the neighborhood. It’s been a grassroots effort from the very beginning. That’s what’s been so personally rewarding to me, just seeing the neighbors rise up and band together for the community. Fortunately, I had a good team that rallied around me early.”

Following the committee’s approval to transfer the Sagebrush territory, the proposal must now undergo a California Environmental Quality Act study to determine the environmental impacts of the transfer, which could take place sometime next year.

If the environmental findings favor a transfer, the transfer would go to local voters to decide on.

If Glendale school officials decide to appeal the committee’s decision, they would not be able to appeal to the California State Board of Education until the environmental study is complete.

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County Committee to consider the Sagebrush Petition on May 3

It’s been four years since the UniteLCF! residents committee formed to request a “territory transfer” of the western most part of La Cañada Flintridge to be permanently part of the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD). This transfer has been the desire of a majority of “Sagebrush” residents since La Cañada Flintridge (LCF) became an incorporated City back in 1976.  La Cañada-Sagebrush families no longer wish to attend our own neighborhood schools as “non-residents.” Approval of our Petition could stitch back together the entire City of LCF and enhance the community identity and civic engagement that we feel are critical components of any outstanding public education system.

We are pleased to announce that the members of the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization will deliberate and render its preliminary approval or denial of our Petition on Wednesday, May 3rd. The meeting begins at 9:30AM at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, 9300 Imperial Highway in Downey. Members of the public are invited to attend and hear the presentations by the impacted school districts and the Petitioners, as each will make a 20-minute presentation.

An approval at this meeting would be preliminary. Before final approval is granted, an analysis of the environmental impacts of the transfer would need to be completed following the guidelines provided in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which could take up to 6 months to complete.


Breaking news! March 8th deliberation postponed

The Sagebrush Territory Transfer deliberation by the Los Angeles County Committee on School Organization that was scheduled for March 8th has been postponed upon request from the Chief Petitioners. Tom Smith, Chair of UniteLCF! issued this statement “we have taken this step to facilitate the ongoing analysis of our transfer petition by the County Committee and the two school districts. We expect to appear before the County Committee at their next scheduled meeting, April 5, 2017.”

Public hearing presentations by all parties

Public Hearing, October 26, 2016:
Petitioners Presentation Part 1  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/petitioners-10-26-16-presentation-part-1.pdf
Petitioners Presentation Part 2  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/petitioners-10-26-16-presentation-part-2.pdf
La Cañada Unified School District Presentation  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/lcusd-sagebrush-10-26-16-prsnttn.pdf

Public Hearing, November 2, 2016:
Petitioners Presentation Part 1  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/petitioners-11-02-16-presentation-part-1.pdf
Petitioners Presentation Part 2 https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/petitioners-11-02-16-presentation-part-2.pdf
La Cañada Unified School District Presentation  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/lcusd-sagebrush-11-02-16-prsnttn.pdf
Glendale Unified School District Presentation  https://unitelcf.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/11-02-16-glendale-usd-presentation.pdf

UPDATE: Feb 1st meeting cancelled

The meeting that was originally scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles County Office of Education on February 1st has been cancelled.

We have been advised that the County Committee on School District Organization will move their deliberation of the UniteLCF! territory transfer to a March date.

Please check back here for updates, or sign up for our mailing list to receive updates from our petition committee, click here.


A message from the Petition Committee UniteLCF!

Thank you so much to all the community members who attended the public hearings on the Sagebrush territory transfer.  Our committee was very pleased with the turnout, the quality and scope of the many speakers who spoke in support for our petition.  Articles appeared in the local papers today and we continue to hear from supporters, asking how they can help.  Our La Cañada-Sagebrush community is quite grateful for the many hours our committee members, volunteers and supporters have given in order to reach this milestone in our campaign.  While not everyone could attend the hearings, we will continue to invite everyone to do what they can to help in our cause.


The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization is an independent, 11-member elected body that studies and makes decisions such as transferring territory between school districts.  The Committee Members have now heard from both school districts, UniteLCF!, the City of La Cañada Flintridge and about 100 members of the public.

Over the next 120 days county staff will be collecting more public comments, researching the issues brought forward, and assembling a complete packet of information for each of the County Committee members to prepare for their deliberation meeting, which could be as early as February 1, 2017.

Your letter, or email, can be sent to both the following contacts at the Los Angeles County Office of Education.  Also, if you would like UniteLCF! to have a copy for our records, please cc: nalini@lasiewicz.com

It’s helpful to put your position at the top or subject line: Subject: SUPPORT for Sagebrush Territory Transfer

 Keith D. Crafton
Director, Business Advisory Services
Secretary, County Committee
(562) 922-6144

Allison Deegan, Ed.D.
Regionalized Business Services Coordinator
(562) 922-6336

Mailing Address:
Los Angeles County Office of Education
9300 Imperial Highway
Downey, CA 90242

Members of the Public are also welcome to attend the monthly meetings of the County Committee and give testimony in person. More at: http://www.lacoe.edu/BusinessServices/BusinessAdvisoryServices/CountyCommittee/DocumentsPage.aspx

Hundreds Attend First of Two Sagebrush Forums

Crescenta Valley Weekly
By: Charly Shelton
October 27, 2016


Last night saw the first of two public forums on the Sagebrush transfer debate. About 200 people attend the La Cañada Unified School District public forum at the District offices, which gave members of the public a chance to voice their opinions on the issue, both in favor and opposed to the transfer.

This public forum was the most recent step in the ongoing battle over the area west of Rosebank Drive in La Cañada to Pickens Canyon, known as the Sagebrush territory. Representing the pro-transfer side is UniteLCF, a coalition of current and former residents of La Cañada who want Sagebrush to fall under the jurisdiction of LCUSD instead of Glendale Unified School District, which it currently does, in an effort to unify the city. The anti-transfer side is represented by GUSD families and friends who don’t want to lose students to another district because it will impact GUSD through “lost ADA funding that could result in teacher layoffs and a reduction in financial resources used to provide students with technology, expanded programs and extra-curricular activities,” wrote GUSD Superintendent Winfred Roberson in an email to GUSD parents.

UniteLCF started a petition to begin the transfer process, gathering 724 signatures that wre verified by the L.A. County Registrar’s Office. The petition was submitted to the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. It began proceedings on the matter in September and ordered that two public forums be held, one in each district, to gather input from residents on their feelings towards the proposed transfer.

At the meeting, those for and against the transfer were easily identified. Those in favor of the transfer wore stickers that read, “Support the Transfer – One City, One School District,” and others who wore buttons that read, “Keep GUSD Whole.”

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Opponents and supporters of Sagebrush transfer make their cases to county officials

Glendale News Press
By Kelly Corrigan
October 28, 2016

During a public hearing Wednesday evening that lasted more than three hours and completely filled the La Cañada Unified School District boardroom with stakeholders, 27 people spoke in favor of transferring La Cañada’s Sagebrush territory out of Glendale Unified’s jurisdiction and into LCUSD.

Residents on both sides of transferring the 385-acre area were allowed 90 seconds to state their case to the Los Angeles County Office of Education Committee on School District Organization.

Many of the supporters of the transfer who addressed the committee were Sagebrush residents. Of the 11 people who spoke against the transfer, five were either Glendale school board members or employees; three were current or former Crescenta Valley Town Council members and the remaining three were parents of GUSD students.


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GUSD Superintendent sends message on territory transfer

Glendale Unified Superintendent Winfred Roberson Jr. is placing robocalls and sending emails to GUSD families, very concerning to Sagebrush families and to UniteLCF!, the residents group campaigning for a territory transfer proposal since early 2013.  “The statements by this Superintendent are reminiscent of the scare tactics and misinformation used in prior Petition efforts.  Inciting fears and causing undue anxiety is exactly what we have been trying so hard to avoid” says Tom Smith, chair of the committee.

The territory transfer petition is supported by a significant majority of the nearly 1000 households in the inhabited northwestern section of the City of La Cañada Flintridge.  Among the inflammatory messages sent by the Superintendent are statements such as: “we are somewhat mystified by this petition,” and students would be “forced to change schools” as well as suggesting the transfer “will have a devastating impact on our remaining students” and “could result in teacher layoffs.”  UniteLCF! rejects each of these claims outright.

The Superintendent is new to his school district, but the GUSD Board members should know better.  If any of the GUSD Board members are truly “mystified” over our Petition, we suspect they have not given this matter their full attention and that, if true, would bet a dark stain on their service on the Board. The UniteLCF! committee has worked for years in the most cooperative way possible to bring about a school district territory transfer that has been sought since the 1960s.  The territory transfer petition now being proposed addresses all issues brought forth during extensive community outreach efforts, meetings with stakeholders, surveys, consultants, community forums and dozens of meetings and exchanges with all the GUSD Board members, past and present, including:

  • Absolutely no property or facilities will transfer between GUSD and LCUSD. The petition fully carves out the GUSD-owned lot on Ocean View Blvd.
  • 2022/23 is our proposed timeframe for the permanent Transfer. The petitioners will propose a delayed formal implementation to allow both districts time to plan, and to minimize disruption to the two most impacted elementary schools—Mountain Avenue and Palm Crest.
  • No current GUSD students – nor their siblings – will be required to transfer to LCUSD. The petitioners will propose that anyone attending GUSD on the effective transfer date can continue to do so, as can their siblings.
  • GUSD has committed to maintaining Mountain Avenue Elementary as a neighborhood school, and has demonstrated its capacity to do so.
  • Because Sagebrush is so small, 1-2% of GUSD by most metrics, the transfer would have a negligible impact on GUSD overall.

Mr. Roberson ought to be aware that over 100 Sagebrush students have already left GUSD and are now attending LCUSD schools, and there has been no impact to the District according to their own staff reports.  In addition, Mountain Avenue Elementary, Rosemont middle schools and Crescenta Valley High Schools are thriving (if not over-thriving) with students and each have well-established academic  programs, extracurricular activities and active PTA and parent support groups.

UniteLCF! and the Sagebrush community continues to urge that the upcoming public hearings on October 26 and November 2 be open forums, with rational discussions and community input based on facts, not fears.  Intimidation and misinformation should have no part of this process.