Leaders in the Los Angeles Unified School District have backtracked on a plan that would have allowed parents to “trigger” changes at their children’s schools, in what was to be part of a broader policy to turn around low-performing schools. (“Proposal Would Open Up Management of L.A. Schools,” Aug. 26, 2009.)
Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines issued a revamped set of rules last week that instead would allow parents, through a vote, to bring their desire for a school overhaul to the attention of district leaders, who would ultimately decide whether the school should be restructured. Under that version of the parent trigger, parents, as well as members of a school staff, can “sign up” to “explore alternative school models.”
To initiate that process, a majority of parents in the targeted school and a majority of parents whose children attend its feeder campuses would have to sign a petition. A petition carrying the signatures of 50 percent of a school’s staff would also bring about the possibility of new improvement efforts.
Only schools that have failed to meet state and federal benchmarks for at least three years would be eligible.
Debate over a parent trigger, which as first proposed by Mr. Cortines would have given parents much stronger authority to instigate management changes at chronically underperforming schools, has been ongoing since August. That’s when the Los Angeles school board adopted its school choice plan that will open up as many as 250 new and existing schools to outside operators, such as charter school managers.
A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2009 edition of Education Week as Los Angeles Leaders Rethink Plans for Parent Input on Changes