Ticked Off Moms Pull Parent Trigger at One of California’s Worst Schools

Takepart.comJanuary 16, 2013

The largest school district in California, and one of the most troubled, is about to face a slew of angry parents.

Moms and dads at 24th Street Elementary School in West Adams, a largely Hispanic neighborhood, have banded together to take over their children's failing school.

According to district data, the school is one of the worst in the city and is ranked in the bottom 10 percent of the state.

More: The Parent Trigger: Rebellious Moms Make History and Take Over a Failing School

David Phelps of Parent Revolution, the organization working with parents to transform the failing school, says the majority of kids will not be prepared for junior high when they leave the school.

Parents started taking action four years ago, but this was before the parent trigger law was enacted. In California, and six other states, parents can petition the district to reform a school from the top down. They can fire teachers and administrators, and turn the school over to private management.

Because of this law, and the determination of parents, families and reps from Parent Revolution will deliver their petition asking for sweeping reform on January 17. Phelps says he has reason to believe that "the district and superintendent want to make substantial change."

Despite the hope that the school board will respond in their favor, Phelps knows how difficult the battle for a school takeover can be.

The organization helped pull the parent trigger at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, California. Ben Austin, founder of Parent Revolution, wrote on TakePart that the school also ranks in the bottom 10 percent of schools statewide. "In the 2010-2011 school year," he wrote, "two-thirds of the children failed the state reading exam. Nearly 80 percent failed the science exam. The school hasn’t met state standards for over six years."

This painstaking battle in Adelanto went on for 18 month, and was finally resolved in early January. The school board approved the parent's choice for a nonprofit charter operator, and the new school will open in August 2013.

Although Desert Trails is now going to become a charter school, Phelps says this is not always going to be the case under the parent trigger law. It depends mainly on the parents and the circumstances.

For 24th Street Elementary parents, bringing the petition to the school board on the 17th is the first step on a long road to reform.

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Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com