By Frank Wells
On March 28, the Adelanto Elementary School District Board of Trustees unanimously rejected the resubmission of a “parent trigger” petition, saying pro-trigger organizers had failed to reach the simple majority threshold required by the state’s Parent Empowerment Act of 2009. The petition had been resubmitted by the pro-trigger organization Parent Revolution after its initial submission was rejected because of signature errors. Large numbers of rescissions by parents with second thoughts and still-invalid signatures again torpedoed the effort.
The rejection capped Parent Revolution’s second failed attempt to invoke the parent trigger law, which allows a majority of parents to impose one of five consequences on an underperforming school, based on Race to the Top guidelines. Parent Revolution’s first attempt in Compton was tossed out of court last year, with some parents saying they had been misled by organizers or did not fully understand what they were signing.
The Adelanto campaign was fraught with similar problems. Adding to the confusion was the fact that Parent Revolution had circulated two different petitions, using the trigger option to leverage for demands on the other petition.
The school board meeting brought a number of heavy hitters from outside Adelanto, including former state Sen. Gloria Romero, author of the Parent Empowerment Act and currently the California director of Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-trigger organization. Romero flip-flopped on her earlier comments that rescissions should be allowed, and then backpedaled from remarks criticizing Parent Revolution’s confusing two-petition strategy. Romero admitted to the school board she had never been to Adelanto before, and reminded them of the national implications of their decision and the importance of sending a message with their decision.
Board member Debra Jones responded, “I couldn’t care less if the world is watching or not. It is not my role to send a message on the nobility of any law. My duty is to obey the law and to listen to the voices in this local community, not the whole country. These parents, these stakeholders, we all have a vested interest in how these kids turn out.”
La Nita Dominique, president of the Adelanto District Teachers Association (ADTA), decried threats of costly further litigation and the destructive influence outsiders with an agenda have had on the community. “It saddens me. We have to live and work together here long after these other organizations are gone and long after the outsiders here tonight have driven back down the hill,” she told the school board.
Dominique urged the community to move forward with collaborative school improvement efforts ADTA was helping bring to the district, rather than create more division through the parent trigger.