School Takeover Oversight Committee to Hold Hearings Early Next Year

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday October 23, 2007

In the wake of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of a bill by Assemblymember Sandré Swanson that would have clarified the procedure for returning local control to the state-operated Oakland Unified School District, Swanson is moving forward with plans for oversight committee hearings for what the assemblymember says is “to study the effectiveness of California’s statutes governing state takeovers of school districts.” 

Swanson will be holding the hearings in his capacity as chair of the California Select Committee on State School Financial Takeovers, a newly formed position and committee established by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez earlier this year. 

Swanson said that the committee “will be looking at all of the state takeovers and in particular will be observing Oakland to make sure the progress continues.” 

In a press release issued shortly after the governor’s veto of Swanson’s AB45 Oakland school local control bill was announced, Swanson’s office said that hearings would begin early next year in Oakland and other cities around the state.  

A spokesperson for the assemblymember’s office said this week that the committee is not yet ready to release detailed plans, including a hearing schedule. 

Members on Swanson’s Select Committee include Julia Brownley (D-Woodland Hills), chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance; Gene Mullin (D-San Mateo), chair of the Assembly Education Committee; Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield); Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa); Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley); Juan Arambula (D-Fresno); Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton); and Bonnie Garcia (D-Coachella). Swanson, Evans, Hancock, Arambula, and Dymally all represent areas where local school districts have been taken over by the state. 

Besides Oakland in 2003, the State of California has taken over control of six other local school districts since 1990: Richmond/West Contra Costa (1990), Coachella Valley Unified (1992), Compton Unified (1993), Emery Unified (2001), West Fresno Elementary (2003), and Vallejo City Unified (2004). Of those school districts, only Oakland Unified and West Fresno Elementary remain under state control.