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Parent-Trigger Process in Early Stages at California School

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A group of dissatisfied Anaheim, Calif., parents have garnered strong support from key advocates of the state's parent-trigger law to help convert their struggling school into a charter.

Parents of students at Palm Lane Elementary School are in the early stages of their effort, which according to an Orange County Register story includes meeting in parks and going door-to-door with a pro-parent-trigger community organizer. The efforts are reminiscent of the strategies parents used at the state's first parent-trigger school—Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto.

Under California's Parent Empowerment Act, parents whose children are enrolled in persistently failing schools can petition their district for sweeping educational changes, from converting to a charter to removing the principal and staff. (Los Angeles Unified School District's interim superintendent recently reversed an earlier decision that would have banned the parent-trigger petition process this school year.)

Palm Lane parents have powerful advocates lobbying their cause—former state Sen. Gloria Romero and current state Sen. Bob Huff, the parent-trigger law's co-sponsors. The newspaper reports that both Romero and Huff recently spoke in support of Palm Lane parents during an Anaheim City School District board meeting. Romero's newly founded California Center for Parent Empowerment, which assists those seeking to use the parent-trigger law, is funding the community organizer working with Palm Lane parents, according to the story.

Palm Lane, which is less than 2 miles west of Disneyland, is struggling academically and has made headlines recently for forcing the ouster of its principal. Results from the state's 2013 English Language Arts assessment found that only 38 percent of students scored proficient or above while about 54 percent met that mark in math.

But a school district official and board member told the newspaper that the school's test scores are increasing and that Palm Lane's new principal needs time to implement planned improvements, including a new music program.

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