Parents Able To Close Failing Schools

The Los Angeles-based group Parent Revolution, pushed hard to pass a new law called the “parent trigger.” The new law requires school districts to make dramatic changes to a school if 51% the parents vote on the change(s).

Parents could call for the school to be shut down, turned into a charter school OR, they could demand that the principal and half of the teachers be fired.

The law was passed in January as part of an effort to make California more competitive for the “Race to the top” federal grant program.

As a concession to the outraged teachers union, the law allows for only 75 schools statewide to be overhauled through the parent petition process. The state teachers union calls it the “lynch-mob provision,” and claim that backers of the law are charter school supporters.

The law also has an open enrollment clause allowing parents to send students to other schools or districts from failing schools.

For a school to be “parent triggered,” the following criteria must be present:

  • Being labeled a “program improvement” school for more than three consecutive years for failing to meet federal academic benchmarks.
  • Having an Academic Performance Index (the state’s benchmark test) of less than 800, based on the state’s ranking system that ranges from 200 to 1,000 points.
  • Being among the lowest 5 percent of schools in California
  • And now after five years of fighting Los Angeles Unified officials, fed-up parents at Mount Gleason Middle School in Sunland-Tujunga are using the new law to force change at their failing middle school. Mount Gleason Middle School has been on a federal list of under-performing campuses for a dozen years.

    Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, authored the bill.

    -Katy Grimes

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