Two parent triggers have been deployed in California, total, and there have been no other parent triggers anywhere. Here’s what’s happened in those two cases:
McKinley Elementary, Compton, CA
Parent Revolution orchestrated this one entirely without the involvement of the parent community.
After the petitions were delivered, many parents protested and said they did not want the school to become a charter. Many said they had been told the petitions were to beautify or improve the school.
Parent Revolution had pre-selected a charter operator called Celerity to take over the school. After the dust settled, Celerity wound up opening a separate school a couple of miles away instead. It was predicted that there would be a mass exodus of students from McKinley to the new Celerity charter school, but the Los Angeles Times reported that only 20% of the McKinley students transferred to the charter school.
In checking the actual enrollment figures for McKinley, however, they show a 13% drop in enrollment when the charter school opened, so 20% would seem to be an exaggeration. Clearly, only a small percentage transferred.
Parent Revolution now acknowledges that its efforts at McKinley were not successful.
Desert Trails Elementary, Adelanto, CA.
Reportedly, a former principal of the school (who was angry at the district) and a former school board member contacted Parent Revolution.
This time Parent Revolution made a much greater effort to make it look like the parents were in charge, and a parent spokeswoman, Doreen Diaz, became the face of the parent trigger petitions.
There was a large and active faction of parents who opposed the petitions all along, especially because there was a new principal they liked and they felt he was making positive changes.
Parent Revolution used an odd strategy of circulating two parallel petitions. One called for a list of changes in the school (including some that simply require more money, and some that are opposed by education reformers, such as smaller class sizes). The other called for turning it into a charter. Then they submitted only the one calling for charterizing.
There was divisive controversy, pitting parents against parents. Many parents wanted to withdraw their signatures from the petitions, but the matter went to court and a judge ruled that they could not withdraw their signatures, thus disempowering them.
Eventually the next step happened. Parents who had signed the petition were given the chance to vote on which of two possible charter operators they wanted to take over the school. 53 total parents voted. Desert Trails enrolls about 700 students, so clearly this a small minority of the parents made the decision. The pre-selected charter, Laverne Prep, is on track to take over the school in fall 2013, if all goes according to its plans.
Meanwhile, we understand that Doreen Diaz, the trigger spokesperson, has withdrawn her child from the school, despite an outcome supposedly desirable for her.
Also, Parent Revolution got the district to pay a $100,000 “settlement” (of what is not clear) to five parents who were supporters of Parent Revolution, so these parents profited nicely from their efforts.
We also hear that that Parent Revolution has collected signatures at schools in San Diego and in the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles, with the line “sign here to improve your child’s school,” but we don’t have any further details.
For more background on the parent trigger, see PAA’s Parent Toolkit for the Won’t Back Down movie and beyond.