School Choice & Charters

Parents at Struggling L.A. School Invoke Parent-Trigger Law for Second Time

By Arianna Prothero — February 05, 2016 1 min read
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Parents at a Los Angeles elementary school are threatening to use California’s parent-trigger law for the second time in one year to wrest control of their school from the district.

Under the law, if a petition gathers enough signatures, parents can initiate an overhaul of a failing school, including turning it into a charter school.

Parents at 20th Street Elementary used the threat of a petition in June to force the Los Angeles Unified School District to make changes at the majority Latino and low-income school, including hiring a new principal and two new teachers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But LAUSD hasn’t delivered on many of its other promises, the group says, such as strong and experienced turnaround leadership and professional development for the school’s teachers.

“The last thing we wanted to do was have to go back and spend our nights and weekends gathering hundreds of petitions again, but the district left us no option,” said Lupe Aragon, a member of the 20th Street Elementary Parents Union, in a statement. “The kids in our community deserve to have access to a high-quality public school.”

This latest petition, which the group Parent Revolution is helping to organize, seeks to turn 20th Street Elementary into a charter school. The plan quickly drew criticism from the city’s teachers’ union.

“Parent Revolution has created chaos in every neighborhood they’ve targeted, relying on misinformation and scare tactics to divide families and school communities,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said in the L.A. Times.

This parent-trigger petition comes shortly after leadership change at LAUSD and as the district is grappling to deal with a plan by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to greatly expand the number of charter schools in the city.

Parent trigger seemed in vogue a few years ago among pro-school choice policymakers, but it has failed to gain traction beyond California where it originated. Only a handful of states have adopted such a law, and California is the only state it’s been used in.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.