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CA Parents Use 'Trigger Law' Take Over Failing School

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on July 24, 2012 6:52 AM

California's 'parent trigger' law saw its first success on Friday in Adelanto, north of Los Angeles. Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the district must accept a petition from parents.

The parent trigger law went into effect in 2010 to allow parents to force changes in underperforming schools. If parents can collect a 50% majority on petitions to the school board, their proposed changes must be put into effect.

Desert Trails Elementary School parents collected the required signatures but the district rejected their petition on the basis that some parents rescinded their signatures.

But the district is no longer calling the shots, according to Malone.

Signatures can't be rescinded under the parent trigger law and parents shouldn't be encouraged to rescind their signatures, reports Los Angeles Times.

That means the parents have enough signatures to force change at Desert Trails which has been listed as a failing school for the last six years.

California was the first state to introduce parent trigger laws but since then others have adopted similar legislation. The purpose is to give parents some control over the future of failing schools.

In this case, the parents at Desert Trails submitted a petition to turn the elementary school into a charter.

The Board plans to appeal the ruling, reports Reuters.

One of the issues is that parents signed two petitions. The first was to implement significant reform at Desert Trails. The second was to put in a charter school if the reform efforts failed.

Only the second petition was submitted to the school board.

Presenting parents with two petitions but only submitting one seems misleading, according to Carlos Mendoza, Adelanto school board president. He does not completely oppose a charter school, but wants to ensure the district and community have continued input into the charter's operation.

Parent trigger laws give parents a chance to turn around a failing school rather than move to a new district or pay for private school. Adelanto parents may be the first to take advantage of this opportunity.

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