Parents squabble over take-over of California school

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

In the Washington Post today, outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shared the feel-good story of the first parent takeover of a poorly performing school in Compton, California. But the experience of the parent-administrators in Compton is actually a much more complicated tale, with accusations of misconduct on both sides of the school-choice debate.

A group of parents organized by the Los Angeles nonprofit Parent Revolution gathered enough signatures to convert McKinley Elementary School into a charter under California's new "parent-trigger" law. However, at a school board meeting this week, parents lined up to accuse the group of misleading them about the nature of the petition and denying them entry to meetings about the takeover, The LA Times reports. Meanwhile, the members of Parent Revolution say that they, and other pro-charter parents, are the ones who were receiving threats.

Now, the California board of education is asking the state attorney general's office to investigate allegations of wrongdoing on both sides, according to the Times.

The trigger law says that if a majority of parents at a school demand it, the school must take drastic action to improve: either by closing the school altogether, firing and rehiring a majority of staff, or converting the facility into a charter school.

"Using a new power known as the parent trigger, which I fought for and state legislators approved last year, these Compton parents banded together to demand change," Schwarzenegger wrote.

Five states, including New Jersey and Michigan, may introduce similar legislation next year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

(A parent prepares to hand over the petition to take over McKinley: AP.)