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Los Angeles District Says Federal Waiver Puts Parent-Trigger Law on Hold This Year

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Los Angeles Unified School District officials said a federal waiver bars parents from petitioning the school system to make sweeping changes at low-performing schools this year.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a letter from a district lawyer to former state Sen. Gloria Romero said that the school system couldn't be held accountable under the so-called "parent-trigger law" because of a waiver it received in 2013 from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. As an alternative to the state's Parent Empowerment Act, the letter says that Los Angeles and seven other California districts, which received a group waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, will develop their own changes and systems to monitor progress.

Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy told the Times that the district supports the parent-trigger law. He said parents whose children attend chronically low-performing schools will be allowed to petition for changes next year. But Romero, who wrote the 2010 law, wascritical of the decision.

"I believe it violates the spirit and intent of parent empowerment," Romero said in the story.

California's parent-trigger law allows parents to mandate changes at a poorly performing school, including replacing the principal and staff or converting the school into a charter.

The law has led to contentious struggles in some communities, while others have used the law's mere existence to lobby for extensive improvements at under-performing schools. Still, Education Week has found that lawmakers in few states are giving parents the power to require sweeping school reforms. 

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