By Ben Velderman
ADELANTO, Calif. – If Adelanto school board members don’t follow a court order and allow the Desert Trails Elementary School to be converted into a charter school, they could soon be arrested and sent to prison.
That’s one of several potential outcomes facing defiant board members, as the situation surrounding the nation’s first “parent trigger” school grows even more dramatic.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Adelanto School District Board of Trustees voted 3-1 to openly defy a judge’s ruling that requires parents to “solicit and select” bids to convert the Desert Trails Elementary School into a charter school.
Adelanto board members lamely argued that complying with the court’s ruling would disrupt the school year, and announced that they would impose their own set of reforms.
No dice, said the parents.
On Tuesday, an attorney representing the Desert Trails Elementary School parents filed a “motion to compel” the board into complying with the earlier court ruling. The hearing is scheduled for September 20 in the San Bernardino Superior Court.
If the parents prevail – and it seems very likely that they will – board members must either allow the charter conversion process to proceed, or they could be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned, or face some other action the court deems necessary to enforce the ruling.
One Adelanto board member says he’s ready to be arrested.
“There’s a lot of things I’m willing to do, and if I’m found in contempt of Court – I brought my own handcuffs – take me away today. I don’t care anymore,” board member Jermaine Wright said during an August 17 district meeting.
The parents’ legal motion said, “That the District’s Board members are fully prepared to go to jail rather than comply with the Writ clearly establishes the need for this Court to issue an order enforcing the Writ and preventing the District from further sabotaging the parents’ efforts to select a charter school operator for Desert Trails,”
Wright is obviously trying to present himself as a martyr in the fight against charter schools. But in reality, Wright is fighting to keep Desert Trails students trapped in an awful, ineffective school that has repeatedly failed to teach children how to read, write or do basic math.
Wright’s willingness to be arrested rather than to allow a charter school shows how fanatical some in the education establishment truly are. They hate charter schools so much that they’d rather see kids fail than to allow “corporate America” to step in and save the day.
It’ll be interesting to see if Wright’s fellow board members share his fanaticism, or if they’ll finally agree to let parents pull the “trigger.”