Supporters of 'parent trigger' school in Compton vow to keep fighting

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It's up to a judge to decide if parents can take over the low-performing McKinley Elementary School under the state’s new 'parent trigger' law.

Supporters of a plan to turn a low-performing Compton elementary school into a charter school say they’ll keep fighting. That’s after the Compton Unified School Board unanimously voted Tuesday night to reject a petition that would have allowed parents to take over the school from the district. The effort tests the state’s new “parent trigger” law.

The law allows parents to decide the fate of a low-performing school if they can gather enough signatures to indicate that a majority of parents support the idea.

McKinley Elementary School in Compton is one of those schools. It’s in the bottom 10 percent of elementary schools in California.

The Compton Unified school board says organizers didn’t properly collect the petitions – the format was wrong in places and the signatures couldn’t all be verified.

But Ben Austin, who heads the LA-based education reform group Parent Revolution, doesn’t buy that. He says he’s heard continuous excuses for two-and-a-half months, since his group first filed the petition with the school board.

"It’s so obvious that their only goal is to find any reason of any kind to invalidate the petitions," he says. "And when we win this, they’ll try to find another reason."

Win, as in win in court. The parents’ case over the petitions is working its way through the system. There’s a hearing in a couple of weeks.

Parent Shemika Murphy says she just wants a better education for her daughter, a McKinley second-grader who reads at a first-grade level.

She says the Compton school district is offering to do too little, too late.

"I’m waiting for my daughter’s education to start and improve and get better now, where they have a plan where they 'give us more time, give us some time,'" Murphy says. "We don’t have time. You don’t have time to get your child’s education together. It has to happen now."

But there are parents who think the Compton Unified School District is doing what it can with the resources it has.

Several parents spoke up against the “parent trigger” petition at the school board meeting.

The big question now, is who will a judge side with?

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