Winston School, Del Mar to enter mediation over lease dispute

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The city of Del Mar and The Winston School will begin mediation Jan. 20 over the city’s decision to terminate the school’s lease effective this July, the city attorney announced during a recent council meeting.

Del Mar City Council members voted to terminate the lease in August 2021 after they concluded that The Winston School did not meet a redevelopment milestone required by the lease.

Officials at the school, which has been on the Shores property since 1988, said they submitted multiple plans that did meet the terms of the lease. The city has owned the property and served as landlord since 2008. The lease was originally set to run through 2063.

In an effort to reverse the decision, The Winston School filed a lawsuit against the city in October 2021. A trial is scheduled to begin in March, pending the outcome of mediation.

About 100 special education students in grades 6-12 attend The Winston School.

On Aug. 30, 2021 Winston School students walked down the block
On Aug. 30, 2021 Winston School students walked down the block to a “Meet the Mayor” event after school was over to protest the lease termination.
(Luke Harold)

“The School is confident the basis for its case against the City is on a solid legal footing,” read a statement from the school. “However, pursuing a resolution through mediation is less costly in terms of time and money. We prefer to spend our resources focusing on our students who are still recovering from the impact of the COVID pandemic.”

The statement continued, “When complete, the School’s beautiful campus will have features that will benefit both our students and the local community. This includes an auditorium opening up to the quad, a culinary kitchen, and computer, art, and music studios. We can’t wait to get started.”

Del Mar Councilmember Dwight Worden, a City Council liaison on The Winston School lease when the conflict began, declined comment because the case is still ongoing.