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Roberti Plans to Revise Bill to Break Up School District

TIMES STAFF WRITER

State Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys) said Monday that he plans to revise his far-reaching bill to dismantle the Los Angeles Unified School District in an attempt to minimize fears voiced by opponents, including minority groups.

Steve Glazer, a spokesman for Roberti, said the powerful Senate leader will introduce amendments reinforcing the requirement that a commission established to break up the district will have to comply with two major court cases on desegregation and equal school funding.

Glazer said the bill also would direct the commission to follow federal laws that guarantee basic education rights to disabled students.

The amendments, Glazer said, show that Roberti is committed to fully integrating and funding the proposed new school districts. Minority lawmakers for months have accused Roberti, whose new district is in the San Fernando Valley, of pushing a plan that would provide inner-city schoolchildren with an inferior education.

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“We wanted to put at ease many of the community groups that had a fear that those standards would not be in play in commission deliberations,” Glazer said.

But Leticia Quezada, president of the Board of Education, said the revisions do not soften her opposition to the bill. She said the fact that Roberti failed to include those provisions in the original bill “shows a total disregard for the reality of the Los Angeles school district.”

The measure, introduced in February, is scheduled to face its first legislative test April 14, when it will be heard by the Senate Education Committee.

Under the legislation, the commission would have until July, 1994, to resolve the legal issues and draw boundaries for at least seven separate school districts, each limited to 100,000 students. The education blueprint would go before voters in the current Los Angeles Unified School District in November, 1994.

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Even before it was introduced, the measure was opposed by the Legislative Black Caucus and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. The speaker has said he doesn’t “want an all-black school district, an all-Latino district or a rich, white district.”

The caucus argued that before any change occurs an economic analysis should be conducted on the impact the breakup would have on the 1992 settlement of a lawsuit, which contended that the district had perpetuated funding inequities among schools.

Glazer said Roberti wants the breakup panel to take the case--brought by four parents--into consideration during its deliberations.

Reflecting community concerns, The Black Caucus also urged that the impact of the so-called Crawford case, a class-action suit that stemmed from a 26-year legal battle to desegregate Los Angeles schools, be studied before any breakup takes place. That landmark case prompted the district to begin mandatory desegregation in 1979.

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Roberti’s amendments also would direct the panel to comply with the Crawford case, Glazer said.

The measure is being fine-tuned to expand the commission from 25 to 26 members, including the addition of a school principal, and to clarify that commission members will not be paid.


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