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  • Scooter Company Kicks In $25,000 to Santa Monica Education Foundation for SMMUSD Programs

    Samuel Alioto, Observer Staff Writer|Dec 3, 2022

    I have to admit I love riding scooters. It's a way to go to our office in Downtown Santa Monica, without having to park. It's fun to watch couples riding them. There are several electric scooter companies present in Santa Monica, including Lyft, Lime, Bird and Spin. But the three letter name company VEO has donated $25,000 to the Santa Monica education campaign. Here's the press release from the Santa Monica Education Foundation: Santa Monica Education Foundation Kicks off December Fundraising...

  • Superintendent Ben Drati to Leave SMMUSD and become Bellflower Schools Superintendent.

    Matthew Gonzalez, Observer Staff Writer|Nov 24, 2022

    A memo has been sent to SMMUSD staff, Dr. Drati was appointed as the superintendent for Bellflower School District on 11/17/22. He is expected to be in that office in January. Consequently he is leaving his position at SMMUSD. In 2018, SMMUSD Board of Education appointed Dr. Ben Drati as the new superintendent of the district during a regular meeting. Dr. Drati previously worked for the Santa Barbara Unified School District where he has served as the assistant Superintendent of secondary...

  • SMMUSD Ordered to Pay $45 Million to Special Need Twins in Abuse Case

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 31, 2022

    A jury has ordered the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District to pay $45 million to the family of autistic twins who "were physically abused and restrained by an aide" at their elementary school in Malibu. The lawsuit filed in 2019 alleged a district employee, Galit Gottlieb, used corporal punishment including physical restraint and battery against the two special-needs students when they were in second grade at Juan Cabrillo Elementary in Malibu, according to court documents. A Los...

  • Parents Rally at SMMUSD HQ in Santa Monica, to Protest the Sudden Closure of John Muir Elementary School due to Mold

    David Ganezer, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 13, 2022

    10/6/22: Parents met at SMMUSD headquarters, to protest the sudden closure of John Muir Elementary school due to mold. John Muir was abruptly closed following the District's announcement that toxic mold found at the school presented a health risk to students and staff. The school closure forced the dispersal of 280 students and 42 staff to various schools within the SMMUSD school district, said the group of parents in a press release. "If you don't listen when your employees tell you there's...

  • Police Break Up Another Fight at Santa Monica High School Monday Sept. 19. Student hospitalized as a result of injuries.

    David Ganezer, Observer Staff Writer|Sep 23, 2022

    A fight on Monday September 19th apparently broke out among students at Santa Monica high school. Police were called, and a couple of fire engines were reportedly also present. After we posted this story, Public Information Officer Lt. Rudy Flores provided us with the following update. "On September 19, 2022 at about 3:40 PM, Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) Officers responded to a report of a Fight in the 1800 block of alley 7 involving a small group of male juveniles."] "Santa Monica...

  • Study Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, or Turkish through National Security Language Initiative for Youth

    Observer Staff|Aug 31, 2022

    Alexander Levin of Santa Monica studied Chinese (Mandarin) for six weeks through a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI‐Y) Virtual Summer Intensive scholarship. NSLI‐Y is a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) that promotes the study of Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, or Turkish among American youth. The 2022 NSLI-Y Virtual Summer Intensive program was a virtual...

  • SMMUSD Wants Students to Take Antigen Tests Before Returning to School

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Aug 17, 2022

    Officials from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School are urging students this week to take antigen tests prior to the start of the new school year to “ensure everyone is Covid-19 free upon their return.” SMMUSD Supt. Ben Drati also mentioned that students will not be required to wear masks when they return to school next Thursday, August 18, but they might be asked to take part in voluntary weekly antigen testing program. In a back-to-school letter to parents that also focused on health...

  • SMMUSD Board Ratifies New Agreement With Teachers' Union

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Aug 3, 2022

    Teachers, nurses and management personnel in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have received a pay raise. Classified employees are also in line for a hike in salary. The local School Board has just ratified an agreement between the District and its teachers union that include a 10% salary increase, retroactive to last July. The agreement, which runs through June 30, 2023, was approved at the recent Board meeting. It includes increases to base salaries, hourly rates and substitute...

  • Two Santa Monica College Students and One Alum Selected for Station1 Frontiers Fellowship

    Grace Smith, SMC PIO|Jul 22, 2022

    The nonprofit Station1-founded by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2016-has selected two Santa Monica College (SMC) students and one SMC alum for its Station1 Frontiers Fellowship (SFF), a fully-funded ten-week education, research, and internship experience focused on socially-directed science and technology. Selected after a competitive application/interview process and out of hundreds of applicants, environmental engineering major Grace Jimenez will intern...

  • SAMO Softball Loss to Indio High School 7-4, Ends Samo Season with a Record of 15 wins and 10 losses

    Morgan Genser, Observer Staff Photographer|May 27, 2022

    Left Senior Samantha Gonzalez from the Santa Monica High School girls varsity softball team steps on the edge of 3rd base while Victoria Huerta from Indio High School slide into the base in an attempt to beat the force at SAMO on Thursday May 12th 2022 as Samo hosted Indio in the quarterfinals of the CIF Division 6 Southern Section girls high school softball playoffs. SAMO lost to Indio High School by a score of 7-4 ending their season with a record of 15 wins and 10 losses. Junior Brielle Minor...

  • Santa Monica High School Teacher and Coach Debbie Skaggs Receives Award

    Sarah Storkin, Observer Staff Writer|May 23, 2022

    5.17.22: Physical education Teacher and former SamoHi Softball Coach Debbie Skaggs was presented with a Konolds Principal's award on Tuesday. The award was presented by Dr. Anthony Shelton, principal of Santa Monica High School, in recognition for 35 years of teaching and 27 years of coaching at Santa Monica high school. During her time at Samohi, Skaggs lead the girls to 12 league championships and 2 CIF titles. "Anyone that took PE with Skaggs knows it's one of the most enjoyable things you...

  • California's 8th Graders Can Only Do Math at a 5th Grade Level According to Standardized Tests

    Alyssa Erdley, Observer Staff|Apr 9, 2022
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    April 6, 2022 - A new analysis of state standardized testing reveals that the 2021 math scores of California's eighth graders were on the level expected of fifth graders. According to the analysis by David Wakelyn, founder of Union Square Learning, published in Edsource Commentary, the drop in test scores began even before the pandemic, starting in third grade when the tests were first given. Rick Miller, CEO of the CORE Districts, a multidistrict data and improvement collaborative, said the ana...

  • SMMUSD Wants to "Preserve Tradition" of Electing At-Large School Board Members

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Apr 5, 2022

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and City of Santa Monica have filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization County Committee, challenging the constitutionality of a new state law dealing with school board elections. Senate Bill 442, which went into effect January 1, authorizes the County Committee to approve a proposal to establish trustee areas and elect governing board members using district-based elections without submitting the...

  • SMMUSD Now Offering Free Online Tutoring Service to Students

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Dec 6, 2021

    A free, online tutoring service is now available to students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District SMMUSD announced this week announced it will continue its partnership with Paper, a 24/7 online tutoring service for middle and high school students and teachers. Paper is offered free of charge to students in grade 6-12 and available in English or Spanish, district officials said. The platform provides tutoring services and essay reviews for students, as well as activities and...

  • SMC Picked to Compete for Prize Recognizing College Excellence

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Nov 5, 2021

    SMC was among 150 institutions selected by the Aspen Institute this week to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. These 150 institutions stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds, said the Aspen Institute in a press...

  • SMMUSD Board Delays Action on Vaccine Mandate

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 31, 2021

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is apparently waffling about a proposal to mandate vaccines for all eligible students. The SMMUSD Board of Education met last Thursday to discuss a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students, ages 12 and older, but decided to postpone action on the divisive plan for at least another month, district officials said this week. The mandate discussion could be added to the agenda for the Nov. 18 Board meeting if the vaccine gets full FDA...

  • SMMUSD to Present Environmental Impact Report for Malibu Middle and High School Project

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 29, 2021

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will present the findings of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Malibu Middle and High School (MMHS) specific plan project at a virtual and in-person community meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 2. The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the former Juan Cabrillo Elementary School (JCES) campus, located at 30237 Morning View Drive in Malibu. The proposed project will redevelop and modernize the former JCES and the...

  • SMMUSD Now Offering Free Meals to All Students

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 25, 2021

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has announced it is participating in the federal program offering free meals to all public school students, regardless of their family's income. School officials are also urging families to submit the free and reduced meal application so the schools may continue to receive "funding for programs for low-income students at Title 1 schools" along with music programs. "We are pleased to participate in the free meal program to ensure all students are...

  • SMMUSD Ponders Vaccine Mandate for Eligible Students

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Oct 21, 2021

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is on the verge of mandating vaccines for all eligible students. The local School Board will discuss a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students, ages 12 and older, its upcoming October 21 meeting, district officials said. SMMUSD Supt. Ben Drati said the board will consider the vaccine mandate if light of the recent announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom, issuing a vaccination requirement for students to remain in the classroom during...

  • SM School District Superintendent warns students: 'No Covid tests, no more in-person instruction'

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Sep 6, 2021

    Roughly 85% of families in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have provided consent for weekly COVID-19 testing of their children, district officials announced yesterday. The remaining families must agree to Covid tests or submit an exemption if they want to continue in-person instruction, said SMMUSD Supt. Ben Drati. In a letter to school families, Drati mentioned that the district started Covid testing students and teachers last Wednesday and the staff will contact by September 3...

  • Curated Care Offers Vetted Options for After School Sitters, Date-night Sitters, Pod Teachers, and Tutors

    Observer Staff|Aug 27, 2021

    CuratedCare.Com, an innovative NYC-based babysitting website that connects parents with a unique community of teachers and artists, is launching in Los Angeles. For five years, Curated Care has made the impossible possible by helping NYC families find vetted and inspiring options for after school sitters, date night sitters, pod teachers, and tutors. Now in LA, serving families from Santa Monica to Pasadena, Curated Care aims to revolutionize the child care industry with an inspiring provider...

  • St. Mark School in Venice - Focus on the Whole Child

    Observer Staff|Aug 27, 2021

    St. Mark School in Venice is a gem of a Catholic school that fosters the development and education of the whole child while also providing opportunities to practice the faith through community service, philanthropy and artistic creativity. St. Mark first opened its doors to students in 1949, and continues to serve the Westside of Los Angeles as an elementary school with classes from TK to 8th grade. Graduates from St. Mark continuously are accepted into the high school of their choice. St. Mark...

  • Wearing Masks, Excited Students Return to SMMUSD Campuses

    Stan Greene, Observer Staff Writer|Aug 23, 2021

    Students in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District returned to class Thursday for the fall semester. They had to wear masks indoors and outdoors on campus but they were happy going back to classrooms and feeling a sense of "normality" during the pandemic. Students didn't have to log in to Zoom classes or remember the rotating class schedule or contend with six-foot spacing between desks as they had to do when school first reopened last spring. On Thursday, the students managed to find...

  • SMMUSD Students, Staff Required to Wear Masks, Undergo Weekly Covid Testing

    Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer|Aug 17, 2021

    All the students, teachers and staff at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be required to wear masks indoors and outdoors on campus and undergo weekly Covid testing when they return to school August 19, the Board of Education decided this week. At its August 10 meeting, the Board also passed a resolution requiring all district employees to get vaccinated – mirroring a state policy announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday amid growing concerns about the highly co...

  • Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Starts Aug. 19th

    David Ganezer, Observer Staff Writer|Aug 4, 2021

    The SMMUSD has issued a press release, reaffirming that in class instruction will begin in Santa Monica and Malibu on August 19th, 2021. It is unclear whether or not masks will be required of students. "Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is returning to in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year with health and safety protocols in place as directed by our guiding agencies," writes the District. "The California Department of Education (CDE) has authorized school districts to...

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