Many schools throughout the state of California remain in the chronically and persistently low performing and low achieving category. Thousands of children are still doomed to attend these schools every year. It doesn’t have to be this way. Parents have the right to demand better for their kids. The underutilized Parent Empowerment Act aka “Parent Trigger” law, authored by former State Senator Gloria Romero, is still a thing! The Parent Trigger law is nuclear option for parents who wish to demand a higher standard of education programming for their kids.
According to the California Department of Education (CDE), the Parent Empowerment Act does the following:
“Parent Empowerment provisions provide parents of pupils who are, or will be, enrolled in a low-achieving school that meets certain eligibility requirements the option to petition the Local Educational Agency (LEA) to implement reform in the school.”
The CDE provides (on its website) the tools for parents to take back these schools and implement reform, including sample petitions and instruction on how to take control of these schools.
The most recent example of parents using the act effectively is out of Anaheim Unified. Parents at Palm Lane Elementary School successfully used the act to reform the school with the aid of the original author of the legislation, Senator Gloria Romero (Retired). Anaheim Unified School District fought the petition all the way to the California Supreme Court, wasting nearly a million dollars on a fight they knew they could not win. In the 34 page ruling by the Fourth Appellate District Court, the school was characterized by the judges as chronically failing. It would be impossible to refute that data.
“Palm Lane Elementary School failed to meet AYP (adequate yearly progress) for nine of the prior 10 years,” the four appellate judges wrote in a 34-page decision.
The petition and case was brought forth by parent, Cecilia Ochoa. Ochoa, a parent of two children at Palm Lane ES invested more than 2 years fighting the district to reform the school. The result of the victory is that Palm Lane ES will be converted to an independently run public charter school. The changes will most likely be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.
Parents and advocates were thrilled with the long fought victory and look forward to reforming the school in the coming year. Romero was thrilled with the outcome as well and praised the courageous parents of Palm Lane ES.
“This is a tribute to the courage of parents and their belief that education is the key to the American dream,” Romero said.
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