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Should Wealthy Towns Be Able to Secede from Higher-Poverty, Higher-Minority School Districts?

For years, Craig Foster, a retired Wall Street executive turned public school activist, has been zipping up and down the Pacific Coast Highway seeking support for a split between Malibu, the mostly wealthy, mostly white city of beachfront bungalows and modernist mansions, and Santa Monica, the equally picturesque but less moneyed city that shares its school district.

Foster insists that once Malibu is independent from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the city could roll out a K-12 foreign language program, beef up its middle school soccer offerings, and maybe even design an International Baccalaureate track for the city’s four schools.

The idea has been met with much enthusiasm in Malibu, where parents have long sought more autonomy from the increasingly diverse district. But it has not been received as well in Santa Monica, home to all seven of the school board members and close to 85 percent of the school district residents, who would need to approve the split.