For the first time, a group using the state’s new “Parent Trigger” law has wrested control of a failing school from administrators.
Although her sixth-grade daughter Vanessa gets really good grades, Doreen Diaz says she’s not sure that means much at Desert Trails Elementary School in San Bernardino County.
“They don’t have very high expectations for the kids,” said Diaz. She says she hopes that’ll change soon.
Under a San Bernardino Superior Court judge’s order, the Adelanto School District must accept a parent petition to take over the troubled school.
The 2-year-old “Parent Trigger” law was the first of its kind in the nation. It enables parents to force the conversion of a struggling traditional school into a charter, shut it down completely or fire its staff. All they need is a petition that 51 percent of parents sign.
The legislation has proved popular; similar laws have since passed in five states and several others have bills in the works. But most everywhere teachers unions and school administrators oppose the idea, fearing it’ll undermine their efforts to turn around low-performing schools and initiate further budget cuts to already strapped schools.
Diaz, who’s also president of the parents union for Desert Trails Elementary, says school district officials twice rejected their petition even though more than 75 percent of parents had supported it.
At Adelanto Unified, school district leaders launched their own campaign to persuade parents to rescind their signatures. But the judge’s ruling Friday said the district abused its discretion because it’s responsible for verifying the signatures.
The effort to get parents to remove their names from the petition was also a tactic used at Compton’s McKinley Elementary School, the first school to test out the trigger law. But after a contentious legal battle, the judge in that case ruled all signatures on the petition were invalid because they lacked a date specifying when it was signed.
The Adelanto School District has 30 days to collect proposals from charter school operators that want to run Desert Trails Elementary School. However, Superintendent Darin Brawley told the Associated Press that the district plans to appeal the decision.