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L.A. School Considers Accepting Anti-Semitic Sheik's Donation By: L.A. Times
L.A. Times | Wednesday, July 09, 2003

It's come to this: The cash-strapped Capistrano Unified School District is conducting a check on a sheik to determine whether it can keep the unsolicited $15,000 gift he sent to help preserve smaller class sizes.

It's a small world after all when the president of the United Arab Emirates manages to keep abreast of the financial woes dogging a small school district in decidedly distant Orange County. The sheik apparently learned about the district's lemonade stands and bingo nights from the grandmother of a student at the district's Las Flores Elementary School. This globe-trotting grandma, who prefers to remain anonymous, used her connections to alert folks in high UAE places, who, in turn, briefed the sheik.

But international charity isn't always a simple affair. The district is conducting a background check to determine whether it's appropriate for Las Flores to accept the gift from Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The sheik made news recently when his $2.5-million donation to Harvard University sparked protests by some students and faculty members who said he had ties to an organization that sponsored speakers some had labeled as anti-Semitic.

Some parents say the district is to blame for the cash shortfall and should take the money and run to the bank. The district points a finger at Sacramento and an antiquated state school funding system that sets the stage for the increasingly common fund-raising appeals.

All of which leads to an interesting idea. If the sheik really wants to help, he can dash off a $38-billion check to cover the state of California's budget shortfall. Legislators in Sacramento probably couldn't care less whose name was on the check as long as it got them off the hook.

Then again, it's unlikely that the sheik, after conducting his own background check, would want to see his name dragged through the mud through association with the Democrats and Republicans whose irresponsible actions on the budget mess showed that they worried more about political one- upmanship than about the health, safety and welfare of the people who elected them.

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