Public Hearings on Sagebrush Petition

On September 7, the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization officially accepted a petition requesting transfer of the “Sagebrush territory” from Glendale Unified School District to La Cañada Unified School District. The petition was submitted by UniteLCF!, a coalition of residents.

The area, or territory, in question is the north western most part of the City of La Cañada Flintridge, where students are assigned to the GUSD.  This area is located generally west of Rosebank Drive to the City’s boundary at Pickens Canyon.

The County Committee will hear public comments on the UniteLCF! petition at two public hearings on October 26, 2016 and November 2, 2016. Families and community members are encouraged to attend both hearings, listen to the dialogue between the parties, and participate in the discussion.

LA County Committee on School District Organization – La Cañada Flintridge Public Hearing

Date: October 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 P.M.
Location: La Canada Unified School District Boardroom

LA County Committee on School District Organization – Glendale/La Crescenta Public Hearing

Date: November 2, 2016
Time: 6:30 P.M.
Location: Crescenta Valley High School Auditorium

GUSD Seeks Stay in Sagebrush Petition Process

La Cañada Flintridge Outlook
September 29, 2016
By Mirjam Swanson

Not so fast, Glendale Unified School District lawyers seemed to insist when they filed a petition seeking the names and addresses of the 724 people who signed the UniteLCF petition earlier this year.

UniteLCF is the citizens’ group behind the most recent attempt in a 40-plus-year fight to redraw school district boundaries so that the students who live in the 385-acre western portion of La Cañada Flintridge will attend La Cañada Unified schools instead of GUSD schools, as they now do.

On Wednesday, GUSD attorneys asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue for the right to examine the signatures attached to the petition and for a temporary stay on the petition process so that they’ll have time to conduct that analysis.

The signatures were approved by Dean Logan, Los Angeles County registrar-recorder and county clerk, in July. He’s indicated that the signatures must remain confidential unless GUSD produces a court order to release them.

Hogue on Wednesday called for another hearing on the matter on Oct. 14, because neither the registrar nor the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization had enough time to prepare their positions between the time they were presented with the motion and Wednesday’s hearing, according to UniteLCF’s Nick Karapetian, who was in court.

The County Committee on School District Organization — which rules on school district boundaries — formally accepted UniteLCF’s petition Sept. 7. The next day, attorney Stan M. Barankiewicz filed the request for a stay on behalf of GUSD.

“We all felt that it was a stalling tactic,” UniteLCF’s Nalini Lasiewicz said.

Karapetian said if the judge determines GUSD’s attorneys should have the opportunity to analyze the signatures, those names will not become public and will be accessed only by the attorneys involved.

There was no indication Wednesday about what that analysis would entail, said Karapetian, who speculated that “they want to analyze the demographics of the signers and make some kind of point to the county committee or the public.”

He added: “We are very confident that the signatures are valid and sufficient, and if Glendale Unified wants to go and examine that information with the county registrar … we have no objection to that. What we object to is people’s names and addresses being handed over to Glendale Unified attorneys without understanding what the greater purpose is.”

UniteLCF began gathering petitions in February and submitted the signatures — accounting for nearly 50% of the 1,606 registered voters in the area — on June 29. Only 402 signatures, or 25% of voters, were required for the petition to be certified.

“They’d have to knock off more than 300 of the 700 signatures to invalidate the signatures,” Karapetian said.

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District seeks names on petition

Glendale News Press
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
By Kelly Corrigan

Members of a citizens group seeking to transfer the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge into that city’s school district, and out of Glendale Unified’s jurisdiction, said they were scratching their heads Tuesday over a court order sought by GUSD’s attorneys requesting the names of people who signed a petition in support of the transfer.

The 724 signatures Unite LCF collected earlier this year from registered voters living in the Sagebrush area who support the transfer territory into La Cañada Unified, were deemed “sufficient” by Dean Logan, Los Angeles County registrar-recorder and county clerk, according to a July 18 document.

Attorneys representing Glendale Unified subsequently sought the court order to secure the list of signatures, according to the petition filed Sept. 8 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Unite LCF’s Tom Smith said he’s unsure why the Glendale district’s attorneys want the signature data.

“We’re at a little bit of a loss to understand why it’s needed. We’re a little concerned this is another attempt to slow down the process. We expected Glendale [Unified], at some point, to lawyer up. It came a little earlier than we were expecting,” Smith said.


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Sagebrush shows support for LCUSD schools

In a major milestone of the 2015-16 school year a cohort of over 60 Sagebrush students began attending public schools in LCUSD, the largest single transfer ever. One of the delightful consequences was to see all the LCFEF signs popping up, families who had donated to the foundation, most for the very first time. LCFEF

Letter to Editor: Re “GUSD Sagebrush Position Unchanged”

Crescenta Valley Weekly
Published August 18, 2016

Re: “GUSD Sagebrush Position Unchanged

Thank you for your continuing coverage of the Sagebrush Territory Transfer, an issue of great interest to the local community.  While most Sagebrush families desire to have their children attend LCUSD schools they also respect their neighbors preference to attend GUSD schools. For your reader’s background, in March 2014, the two school districts jointly issued a proposal that recommended a student transfer phase-in and approximately $6.5 million in payments to GUSD over time. Several months later, that proposal was discarded by GUSD, which then significantly raised its financial claims to $23 million.

This amount was untenable to LCUSD and both sides agreed to hire Capitol Advisors Group to evaluate available options to fund what GUSD sought. GUSD held to its claim of $23M and Capitol Advisors did not independently evaluate the basis of GUSD’s claim. In the end Capitol Advisors was not able to identify a path that provided GUSD the amount it sought.

Furthermore, the report did not evaluate the mitigating effects of some of the transfer agreement points used by other California school districts including, a 5 year phase-in period prior to a transfer and a commercial property swap.  Therefore the only “finding” that can be inferred from the Capitol Advisors report is that they could not identify a pathway to get $23 million into GUSD’s hands.

Meanwhile, GUSD acknowledged that Mountain Avenue Elementary would remain open as a neighborhood-serving school should a transfer occur. Your readers should know that in deference to community concerns regarding the sustainability of that school, the circulated petition specifically excluded from the transfer area the GUSD-owned lot serving that school. Therefore no GUSD school facilities would be transferred to LCUSD.

UniteLCF! has always strived to be a voice of reason and frame the  territory transfer issues in a clear and fact-based manner. We seek a resolution to this 50-year old issue that is both reasonable and responsible and look forward to our petition going before the LA County Committee on School District Organization for evaluation of its merit and separate fact from fear.

Nick P. Karapetian
Co-Chief Petitioner

The writer is a parent of two elementary students in the Sagebrush neighborhood of La Canada Flintridge.

GUSD Sagebrush Position Unchanged

Crescenta Valley Weekly

Since the 1960s, the area west of Rosebank Drive in La Cañada to Pickens Canyon, known as the Sagebrush territory, has been hotly contested. Sagebrush officially falls under the jurisdiction of the City of La Cañada, but the students who live there attend Glendale Unified School District schools due to boundary lines. The most recent effort to unify La Cañada addresses in the La Cañada Unified School District is aptly named UniteLCF and now, after three years, the possibility of a territory transfer is coming within reach.


“Sagebrush” is the western most  edge of the City of La Cañada Flintridge (LCF).  The neighborhood does not border the City of Glendale.  LCF Residents have been petitioning local and state government bodies to adjust the school district boundaries since the 1960s.

Recently, a statement was released by UniteLCF celebrating that its petition for the territory transfer was accepted by the L.A. County Registrar’s Office. According to the release, the Registrar’s Office determined that there were 1,606 registered voters in the Sagebrush territory and the petition would need 25% of the total – 402 signatures to place the matter on the agenda for the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization. The petition received 724 verified signatures.

“Our efforts for a territory transfer are about empowering children and families who live in Sagebrush to be on equal footing with the rest of the La Cañada Flintridge community,” said Tom Smith, chair of UniteLCF, in the release. “Our goal is to provide them a greater sense of safety, educational parity, inclusiveness and belonging in their hometown. For over 50 years the Sagebrush residents and parents have sought this transfer and we are determined to be successful.”

GUSD and LCUSD had engaged in negotiations previously but after hiring consulting firm Capitol Advisors to explore its options, GUSD decided to end negotiations as there was not a manageable outcome.

“We remain committed to supporting the findings presented in the Capitol Advisor’s report and do not plan to participate in any further negotiations that might result in moving students from the Sagebrush residential area out of the Glendale Unified School District, thereby harming the district and our students in the process,” said GUSD Board of Education President Dr. Armina Gharpetian. “The schools serving the Sagebrush community are widely recognized as outstanding in quality and, in fact, each year we have many students from the La Cañada School District request transfers into our school district.

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Sagebrush Petition certified

It’s official!  After three years of working to prepare and submit our Petition, it is now  certified by the County Registrar-Recorder as meeting the signature requirements for moving to the next phase of the formal process. We expect that the County Committee on School Organization will be receiving the petition at their next scheduled meeting in September, after which public hearings will be held and the LACOE Division of Business Advisory Services will begin an investigation and staff analysis process.

Click here to read the front page article in the Glendale News Press.


UniteLCF! petition process moves forward, submitted to LACOE

On June 29, 2016, UniteLCF! Chair Tom Smith and Co-chair Nalini Lasiewicz delivered a formal petition and signatures to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.  This event marks a milestone in the neighborhood campaign launched three years ago.  In June of 2013, the La Cañada Flintridge city council approved a Resolution brought by Tom Smith and scores of residents in support of a Territory Transfer.  Our petition seeks to unite and strengthen a fractured community by granting all La Cañada Flintridge residents the same opportunity to attend their hometown public schools and to benefit from the same social, civic and educational resources currently enjoyed by the other 90% of LCF families, residents and voters.

Sagebrush Petition.jpg