Menlo Park residents who live in a group of 31 homes on the north side of O'Connor Street, just about a block from where the Menlo Park City School District plans to build its new Upper Laurel School, have asked to have school district boundaries changed so children who live there could attend the school.
Unless their recent petition is successful, only the residents of the south side of the stretch of O'Connor, between Elliott Drive and Euclid Avenue, will be eligible to attend the new school.
The homes on the north side of that section of the street are now in the Ravenswood City School District, with the district boundary running right down the middle of the road.
The petition, signed by 26 residents, was submitted to San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Anne Campbell on Dec. 9. The petition says that when East Palo Alto was incorporated in 1983, that stretch of O'Connor was annexed into Menlo Park, where their neighbors already were, but the school district boundaries weren't changed at the same time.
The petition affects the properties from 235 to 295 O'Connor Street. The lead petitioners are Susan Stacy Keller, John Barksdale and Lansing Scriven.
The petition says the change will create "a cohesive community," restore "the O'Connor Street's school district lineage" and align "city, school district and natural boundaries."
"Our day to day lives are in Menlo Park," the petition says. "We are a group of residents that are highly involved in our community and we regularly participate in informal and organized events in our Willows community."
"Our hope is that kids from both sides of our street and our entire Willows community will be able to participate together in school activities and continue to build the relationships they have formed in our neighborhood," the petition says.
The petition says it will not promote racial and ethnic segregation, one of the factors that must be considered, because the residents in the area that would be transferred are very ethnically and racially diverse. The area has 49 percent white residents, 21 percent Asian residents and 16 percent Latino residents, the petition says.
The petition also says that the area currently has only one child attending Ravenswood district schools and that initially only one child would attend Menlo Park district schools if the change is approved.
Changing school district boundaries is a convoluted process. According to Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the Menlo Park district's chief business and operations officer, who explained the process to the Menlo Park district's board at its March 10 meeting, the first step is submitting a petition to the county office of education.
If the petition meets the minimum requirements, including the signatures of more than 25 percent of the registered voters in the area to be transferred, it goes to the County Committee on School District Organization. That happened on Feb. 23, Mr. Sheikholeslami reported.
The committee then holds public hearings in the districts that would be affected by the boundary change. Those meetings are scheduled in the Menlo Park district on Monday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in the district TERC room, 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton; and in the Ravenswood district on Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m., in the district office board room, 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto.
The school boards of the affected districts can support, oppose, or remain neutral on the petition, Mr. Sheikholeslami said.
The Menlo Park board will discuss its stand on the petition at its April 14 meeting, he said.
Once the public hearings have been held, the county committee has 120 days to vote on the boundary change. The earliest it could be considered is at its May 4 meeting.
The committee's decision can be appealed to the state board of education.
If either district opposes or remains neutral about the transfer, but it is approved by the county committee, an election must be held. The county board would decide which voters would take part in the election, which could include only the homes affected, or residents of either or both affected districts. (Note - the original version of this story quoted a Menlo Park district official who said only the affected residents would vote.)