By Ben Velderman
ADELANTO, Calif. – History was made last night when the Adelanto School Board finally approved a parent union’s demand that a chronically underperforming elementary school be turned over to a successful charter school operator.
The decision marks the first time a “parent trigger” law has successfully been enacted in the nation.
California is one of seven states that have some form of parent trigger law, which generally allows a majority of parents with children in a consistently underperforming school to force major changes in how the school operates. Twenty other states are reportedly considering some version of the trigger law.
California’s parent trigger law was passed in 2010, but it took the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School almost two years and a contentious legal battle to get the school board to cooperate with their decision, notes The Hechinger Report.
The Adelanto school board twice rejected the Desert Trails parent trigger petition in the past.
One big difference was a change in the composition of the school board.
“The successful vote came after two opponents of the parent trigger petition lost the school board election in November and a third opponent left his seat for the Adelanto City Council. One of the new school board members, Teresa Rogers, was a parent leader of the (parent trigger) petition campaign,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
The board’s 4-0 vote was “followed by recess to let the parent trigger supporters celebrate,” notes The Hechinger Report.
“I’m so excited. I’m happy. I’m in tears – I’m holding them back,” parent leader Cynthia Ramirez said. “I can finally sleep at night.”
Beginning next school year, the beleaguered elementary school will be managed by LaVerne Preparatory Academy, a charter school operator that has a track record of student success. All current Desert Trails students and their siblings are guaranteed a spot in the new school, but all current teachers and staff members will have to reapply for their jobs, according to The Hechinger Report.
It’s expected that this ground-breaking parent trigger victory will inspire parents in eligible school districts to follow suit, and will spur lawmakers in “trigger-less” states into action.
The parent trigger law is the brainchild of Parent Revolution, a California-based advocacy group.
“The idea behind this movement is not simply to find and save every single failing school in the country through community organizing,” Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin told the Hechinger Report. “The idea is shifting the paradigm and giving parents the power to do what’s in the best interest of their kids.”