Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Compton’s Parent Trigger Shooting Blanks

By a unanimous vote, the Compton School Board rejected the McKinley Elementary Parent Trigger petition to convert it into a private charter school, calling the petition “materially non-qualifying” and “insufficient.” The board said that the petition failed to include information required by state law and that parents failed to provide evidence that they had utilized a “rigorous review process” in choosing Celerity Educational Group to run the school. The petition also cited the wrong education code section.

The decision angered some parents who supported the conversion of the school because they claimed it was the only way to turn the school around. This is clearly not true, however, as McKinley’s teachers were turning the school around themselves, without giving it away to a private company. Over the past two years, they had improved their Academic Performance Indicator by 77 points.

Under the Parent Trigger law, valid signatures from parents of half the school's students can trigger its conversion to a private charter school. In Compton, however, the signatures were not entirely valid. Many of those had originally signed rescinded their signatures, claiming that they had been obtained through deception or coercion. The petition campaign was wracked with accusations of fraud and intimidation, including threats that parents would be deported if they refused to sign the petition. The campaign was organized by Parent Revolution, a front group for Green Dot Schools, a for-profit Educational Management Organization. Ben Austin, defrocked California Board of Education member and executive director of the Parent Revolution, said they would challenge the decision in court.

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