Published Online: February 10, 2011

State Ed. Board Delays Fate of 'Parent-Trigger' Law

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A group of parents-turned-education activists who had boarded a bus at midnight in Compton pleaded with the State Board of Education on Wednesday to continue to enable parents to turn around failing schools.

However, the fate of the "parent trigger" remains undecided for now. The state board decided to take up the issue at its March meeting to give the California Department of Education time to analyze the current regulation and form a group of representatives to work on a long-term solution.

The 2009 Parent Empowerment law allows parents to petition for dramatic changes at struggling schools, including closing the campus, overhauling staff and programs, or converting to an independently run charter school. The law, approved as emergency regulations, is set to expire March 15.

The state board—now with a majority of appointees by Gov. Jerry Brown—will decide March 9 whether to extend the emergency regulations. The board opted not to consider draft regulations submitted by the previous board and instead will start from scratch with more input from interest groups.

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said he has spoken with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, chairwoman of the Assembly's Education Committee, about new legislation to clean up issues created by the law.

Brownley and Torlakson voted against the original bill that created the parent trigger.

That fact wasn't lost on members of the group Parent Revolution, with several saying they worried that revisions created by interest groups would make it more difficult to make systematic changes.

Many of the parents attending the board meeting are part of the drive to overhaul McKinley Elementary School in the Compton Unified School District. In December, 62 percent of parents at the school petitioned to turn the school over to a charter operator.

Torlakson said he would like to create "a working group to craft long-term regulations that treat all parties fairly and provide a transparent, informative, and workable process."

Vol. 30, Issue 21

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