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Torrance : Trustees Target of Recall

A group of parents has filed a recall petition against four of the five members of the Torrance Unified School District board, claiming the trustees “breached the public trust” by voting this year to close Jefferson and Newton middle schools.

In a seven-point list of charges, the SOS (Save Our Schools) Committee also contends that the trustees ignored widespread community opposition to the closures, acting instead on the basis of “inaccurate and incomplete” information from district officials.

John Eubanks, one of three parents signing the petition, said the district’s own figures indicate that the period of declining enrollment is over. Closing more schools, he said, will result in overcrowding, unnecessary busing and lower standards of education.

School officials have said that closing underenrolled, inefficient campuses is a painful but necessary measure in the district’s effort to use limited resources to maintain quality education for all children.

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The district also has closed 12 of the 37 elementary schools since 1967 when enrollment peaked at 34,200. Current enrollment is about 19,000.

Trustees targeted for recall in the petition filed with the Torrance city clerk are David Sargent, Ann Gallagher, Owen Griffith and Carol O’Brien. Gallagher and O’Brien were elected in November.

The fifth board member, William R. Blischke, was not included in the petition because “he was the only trustee who showed some willingness to work with parents in reaching a fair compromise,” said Eubanks’ wife, Carol.

The board voted unanimously to close Newton but split 3 to 2 on Jefferson, with Blischke and Sargent favoring a plan to convert Victor Elementary School to a middle school.

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Carol Eubanks said the SOS Committee has 50 active members and that at least 100 other parents have offered to help circulate recall petition. In order to force a recall election, the group needs to gather about 10,400 signatures--15% of the district’s registered voters--in a 120-day period after trustees have an opportunity to respond to the charges.

The other parents who signed the petition are Scott McEuen and Raymond G. Robinson.


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