Parent Trigger Charter School Effort Ends in California

From the Los Angeles Times:

Board members for the Adelanto Elementary School District voted 3-1 to accept the parents’ petition for an overhaul at Desert Trails Elementary School, where more than three-fourths of sixth-graders fail to read and do math at grade level. But they rejected the parents’ preferred choice for change, a charter campus, after concluding there was insufficient time to start one up for the current school year.

The board voted to reform the school instead by forming a community advisory council to oversee such improvements as an extended school day, new curriculum, more technology, school progress reports and a school site coach. Teachers will be asked to pledge support for the reforms in commitment letters; those who choose not to sign may move to another school. The council, which will be composed of teachers, administrators, parents and community members, will report directly to the school superintendent and school board, board President Carlos Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the action represented the final resolution of a year-long, bitterly contested campaign over the school. Using the state’s pioneering parent trigger law, Desert Trails parents had collected signatures representing more than half the students, asking for a charter school. But more than 90 parents subsequently rescinded their signatures, saying they were misled or confused when they signed. The district threw the signatures out, causing support to drop below the required 50% threshold and rejected the petition.

Parents, in turn, sued the district and board over that action. Last month, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Steve Malone sided with parents and said the parent trigger law does not allow recisions, ordered the district to accept the petition and gave parents the go-ahead to start soliciting charter school proposals. The parents, aided by the nonprofit Parent Revolution educational advocacy group, have invited three charter operators to submit full proposals.

Mendoza said the board has now complied with Malone’s order to accept the petition. But he said the parent trigger law gives officials the right to reject school overhaul proposals they cannot implement. The district will move forward with the advisory council reform plan for Desert Trails, he said.

I’m not sure if this particular provision was in Florida’s parent trigger bill that failed last March. Parent trigger’s Florida cheerleaders probably see this California possibility as impossible with final charter school decisions being in the hands of the state board of education. But as retiring republican senator Evelyn Lynn effectively argued, Florida already has a failing school’s plan that can be implemented. And one which includes the charter school option. How the choice argument continues to be made with parent trigger begs credulity. What about the parents who didn’t want a charter school?


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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