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California board rejects proposal to split Contra Costa County district

July 14, 2022
The request would have removed 5 schools in Walnut Creek from the Mount Diablo Unified district.

The California Board of Education has rejected a proposal that sought to break off part of the Mount Diablo Unified School District and create a new district.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the board voted unanimously to deny the efforts of people in the Northgate neighborhood of Walnut Creek to secede from the Mount Diablo school system. If the effort succeeded, Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School and Bancroft, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools would have formed a new public school system.

Board members indicated that the proponents of secession didn’t make a convincing case for why they should be allowed to leave the district.

“What I didn’t really hear was anything terribly specific as to what was not working,” said state board member Kim Pattillo-Brownson. “What I did hear very clearly and specifically, however, was a rather significant amount of adverse impact in terms of effectively removing the highest-performing high school in the whole district.”

The state’s decision upholds a county Board of Education vote in 2017 to reject the secession application.

Mount Diablo has about 29,000 K-12 students in central Contra Costa County.

The five schools seeking to split from the district are all in Walnut Creek, and the median income around Northgate High School is 75% higher than the overall Mount Diablo district, according to U.S. Census data.

The proposed new district’s student body would have been 16% Hispanic or Latino and 51% white. Mount Diablo’s student body is is 45% Hispanic or Latino and less than 30% white, per the state board’s staff report.

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