Hundreds Attend First of Two Sagebrush Forums

Crescenta Valley Weekly
By: Charly Shelton
October 27, 2016

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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.
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robersonemail10-22-16

NOTICE: Territory transfer public hearings Oct 26 and Nov 2!

After 3 years of waiting, the time is now to have your voices heard by the L.A. County Committee who will decide if Sagebrush kids will gain the permanent right to attend the same schools as the rest of La Cañada Flintridge.

If you support this change or want to learn more, we invite you to attend one or both of these hearings!
 
Wednesday – OCT 26th @ 6:00pm
La Cañada Unified School District Board Room
4490 Cornishon Ave, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Wednesday – NOV 2nd @ 6:30pm
Crescenta Valley High School
2900 Community Ave., La Crescenta, CA 91214

There will be 20-minute presentations by UniteLCF!, LCUSD and GUSD. The L.A. County Committee members who are the decision makers on this issue will be there to hear from the public and you will have an opportunity to speak for 1-2 minutes, or just listen.

Our Petition addresses the top concerns that have been raised by all sides:

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 time-frame 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.  Lastly, GUSD has committed to maintaining Mountain Avenue as a neighborhood school, and has demonstrated its capacity to do so. Because Sagebrush is so small 1-2% of GUSD the transfer would have a negligible impact on GUSD overall.

Bring your stories & your neighbors
For more information or to volunteer please call:
Nalini at: 818-249-9691 or nalini@lasiewicz.com

Court grants Glendale Unified access to Sagebrush petition signatories

Glendale News Press
October 14, 2016
By Kelly Corrigan

Attorneys representing the Glendale Unified School District were granted access to the names and addresses of 724 registered voters living in the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge who signed a petition in support of transferring their neighborhood out of Glendale Unified’s jurisdiction and into La Cañada Unified’s, following a ruling made Friday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue granted the release of the signatures to Glendale Unified’s attorneys, who filed a petition seeking a court order for the names and addresses of transfer supporters in September.

Hogue, however, did not grant the district’s additional request to halt current proceedings initiated by the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization in September to decide on the transfer.

The 11-member committee is expected to vote on the matter next year.

Hogue asked Glendale Unified attorney Stan Barankiewicz why the district wants the names and addresses.

Barankiewicz said the data could help the school district build arguments against the transfer by pointing out how many Sagebrush petitioners have school-age children — and how many don’t.

He said the signatures could also give insight into their residential or commercial property values should Glendale Unified potentially argue that those petitioners could make personal gains in property values under the transfer.

“We have a right to make those arguments to the county committee,” Barankiewicz told the judge.

After the hearing, he said he was not authorized by Glendale Unified to speak to the press.

Local officials have said the nearly 400 students who live in the Sagebrush area could equate to a $3.6-million loss for Glendale Unified, at most, per year in state funding by 2018, should the students no longer attend Glendale schools.

The Sagebrush area consists of about 385 acres with about 1,000 homes, representing about 2% of Glendale Unified’s tax base.

County committee members do not typically look at signature data as part of their process to decide whether to transfer territory from one school district to another, but to get the county committee to weigh in on the transfer, Unite LCF!, a citizens group that supports the transfer, needed to collect roughly 400 signatures of registered voters living in the Sagebrush area who support transferring the territory.

The 700-plus signatures that Unite LCF! gathered were verified by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder.

The citizens group recently gained the support of Marilyn Smith, an attorney who represented the organization pro bono on Friday.

Smith was part of the initial effort to transfer the territory into La Cañada Unified after the city of La Cañada was incorporated in 1976. An earlier effort by Sagebrush residents was launched in the early 1990s, but ultimately failed.

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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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