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LAUSD board meeting to discuss gas leak, new superintendent

Mike Szymanski | December 16, 2015

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SchoolBoardThe LA Unified school board is drawing closer to the end of the search for a new with another closed door meeting scheduled for tomorrow, just after a special open session to discuss the on-going gas leak affecting two nearby schools in the Valley.

The board is considering a move to declare emergency conditions at Porter Ranch Community School and Castlebay Lane Charter, which are being affected by a natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The leak has led to symptoms of illness in some people and has prompted families to move temporarily from the Porter Ranch neighborhood in the north San Fernando Valley.

The board is being asked to vote to give authorization to the superintendent’s office to take all actions necessary to ensure education and the health and safety of students and staff. Such actions include contracting with companies to respond to the emergency conditions at the schools and relocating students and staff.

It also seeks to give the school’s attorney the right to initiate litigation if necessary, against Southern California Gas and Sempra Energy to recover costs to the district caused by the gas leak.

Board member Scott Schmerelson, who represents the district of the two schools schools, said today that the district has installed air filters in every classroom, assigned additional nurses and initiated daily air-quality monitoring at the two campuses.

Meanwhile, the board is in its final phase of deciding who will be the next superintendent, following the departure of Ramon Cortines, who stepped down last week. The board met even during the school shutdown on Tuesday and will resume discussions tomorrow afternoon. It’s possible, though not likely, that the members could announce the selection at the conclusion of the meeting.

School board president Steve Zimmer was asked yesterday if any of the candidates dropped out the running because of all the emailed threat of violence. He smirked and said, “No, not yet.”

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