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California Parents Use 'Trigger Law' to Effect Major Change at Failing School

Parents of Desert Trails Elementary students celebrate a California Supreme Court ruling in their favor.

For the first time under California’s 2010 “Parent Trigger Law,” parents have successfully forced major changes at an elementary school in Adelanto, north of Los Angeles. Under the law, if parents obtain petition signatures of at least 50 percent of a failing school’s parents, the requested changes must be enacted by the school board.

Parents at Desert Trails Elementary School, fed up with is years of their school underperforming, collected the required amount of signatures to turn the elementary school into a charter. Initially, the school district rejected the petition, but California Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the district must accept a petition from parents.

Parents had been asked to sign two petitions: one asking for major changes at the school, and the other to turn the school into a charter. Only the petition asking for the school to be turned into a charter was submitted to the school district.

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

California was the first state to enact a “parent trigger” law, but a few other states have followed suit. The law is intended to give parents a chance to turn around a failing school rather than move to a new district or pay for private school. Other states with parent trigger laws currently in place include Connecticut, Indiana and Texas. Several other states are considering similar legislation.

The school district says it will appeal the ruling, but in the mean time, parents are thrilled.

“My daughter is going to have a shot at something good. She’s not going to be failing; she’s going to be able to apply for college,” mom Cynthia Ramirez said to CBS News.

(Photo Credit: ParentRevolution.org)

Read more from Joslyn at Babble Pets and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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