Beverly Hills schools to boot 10% of kids

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. —Threats on Facebook, name-calling, security guard escorts — tempers are running high around schools these days in this normally sedate enclave of ostentatious wealth.

The reason: The Beverly Hills school board is preparing to boot out 10 percent of its students as it ends a decades-old practice of allowing out-of-district students to attend city schools on "opportunity permits."

The move has upset many so-called permit parents — mostly middle-class families living in the tonier areas of Los Angeles who are loath to send their children to the beleaguered Los Angeles Unified School District, where more than a quarter of high-schoolers drop out.

"Every family on permit is outraged," said Simy Levy, a Los Angeles resident whose two daughters attend school in Beverly Hills. "It's incredibly unfair."

The plan, which is expected to get final board approval next month, comes as Beverly Hills Unified School District switches to a budget plan financed directly by the city's well-to-do tax base instead of with state money based on enrollment.

The change results from steep cuts in state education funds that have left several affluent communities across the nation paying more school taxes to the state than they receive.

Beverly Hills is the latest to consider the self-financing model, in which the district would keep its school taxes and forgo the $6,239 the state sends for each nonresident student.

Without the financial incentive of enrolling outsiders, district officials are concerned their taxpayers would be subsidizing nonresidents' education.

"It's a reflection of the decisions districts have to make of economic hard times," said Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators. "It's just a major issue across the country."