Youth and children in Malibu and the surrounding unincorporated area have attended schools within the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SM-MUSD) since prior to the City's incorporation. Local school families and community groups have long expressed the desire to separate from SM-MUSD to form a separate Malibu Unified School District (MUSD). 

Among the reasons for separation expressed by Malibu families is the physical distance between Malibu and Santa Monica, the distinct character of these communities, inadequate representation of Malibu on the SM-MUSD Board of Education, and the need for local control over the education of Malibu's children. Since 2011, community groups have worked to advance Malibu's separation from SM-MUSD.

In response to community efforts to advance separation, the City Council adopted Resolution 15-60 authorizing the transmission of a petition for unification of the MUSD to the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. 

On October 12, 2020, City Council received an update from the City Council's School District Separation Ad Hoc Committee and voted unanimously to reinstate the City's petition. (View video of the meeting here)

A brief history of these efforts is provided below:


In 2011, Malibu families formed the Advocates for Malibu Public Schools (AMPS) devoted to the mission of creating an independent Malibu Unified School District dedicated to excellence in education for the Malibu community. AMPS commissioned studies to examine the feasibility of school district reorganization and collected thousands of signatures in support of separation.


In 2015, the Malibu Unification Negotiations Committee (MUNC) was formed with three members appointed to represent the interests of the Malibu school community and three members appointed to represent the interests of the Santa Monica school community. MUNC met for two years to develop financial terms for the separation of SM-MUSD and the formation of two distinct districts. MUNC's recommendations were presented to the City Council and SM-MUSD Board. 


In September 2017, the Malibu City Council formed the School District Separation Ad Hoc Committee. In April 2018, Council asked the Los Angeles County Committee on School Separation to accept and temporarily suspend the City's petition pending negotiations with SM-MUSD regarding separation. Council directed the City Manager and City Attorney to pursue negotiations with SM-MUSD representatives to reach a mutual separation agreement and financial plan for both proposed districts under the guidance of the City Council's School District Separation Ad Hoc Committee. 

On October 12, 2020, the Ad Hoc Committee members reported that the negotiations had stalled and, in response, the Council voted unanimously to reinstate the City's petition for unification with the LACOE Committee on School District Organization.