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First 'Parent Trigger' School Can Stay In District-Owned Building, Arbitrator Rules

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The first school in the nation to successfully use a "parent trigger" law can stay in its building after winning a dispute with the school district.

Desert Trails Preparatory Academy, in Adelanto, Calif., began classes this month for the 2016-17 school year just days after an arbitrator ruled that it could remain in the school building, which is owned by the Adelanto Elementary School District, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

Desert Trails became the first school to successfully convert to a charter after parents petitioned to take over the low-scoring school through the 2010 Parent Empowerment Act. After a bitter dispute, Desert Trails and the Adelanto district entered into a charter agreement, which included use of the facility, from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016.

But earlier this year, the district refused to renew the charter agreement. So, Desert Trails turned to the San Bernardino County Board of Education for a new charter agreement to continue running the school.

Adelanto district officials assumed that the use of the school facility would end when the district rejected the charter, according to the 18-page arbitrator's agreement. But Desert Trails officials assumed that they could continue occupying the facility as long as the school had a valid charter, which it now has under San Bernardino County Board of Education.

The arbitrator ended up siding with the school.

While the "parent trigger" concept was popular a few years ago, the movement has waned recently as parents and advocates have struggled with the practicalities of taking over public schools. An Education Week story last year reviewed the ups and downs of the first five years of the law.

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Contact Sarah Tully at [email protected].

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