In an historic vote, parents of students at the Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., became the first parents in American history to select a new operator to transform their failing school. The parents have chosen the LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, which will open a newly transformed school in August 2013.
This historic vote came after 18 months of organizing, two defiant school board votes, two court victories and countless attempts by opponents of change employing indefensible tactics to defend a failing status quo. It is the first time anywhere in the United States parents have won a Parent Trigger campaign.
The vote comes after a Desert Trails Parent Union (DTPU) selection committee reviewed two excellent non-profit charter school operator proposals over the past three weeks. A total of four proposals were originally received. One was rejected because it was from a for-profit applicant; a second operator chose not to move forward with its proposal.
Parents voted despite obstruction tactics by both the principal of the Desert Trails Elementary School and the local teachers’ union. Parents reported the principal endeavored to direct parents away from the voting location, while the teachers’ union distributed flyers highlighting a free skating party at a local venue for children accompanied by a parent during the same time voting was taking place.
The results were tallied and announced earlier this evening. Parents had the opportunity to select either the LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy or the Lewis Center for Academic Excellence.
“We were very impressed with both the La Verne and Lewis Center proposals,” said Doreen Diaz, a Desert Trails’ parent and lead coordinator for the Desert Trails Parent Union (DTPU).
“It was clear both operators were strong options for parents, and had the capabilities of transforming our school. With the selection of LaVerne, we now have the opportunity to provide our children with the kind of education they deserve. Parents selected LaVerne due to their incredibly strong track record with the same student demographics as Desert Trails, as well as their commitment to ongoing parent power and giving parents a real voice in the governance of our school next year.”
“Turning around a failing school like Desert Trails is incredibly difficult work, and there is still a lot of work to be done, but our hard work so far is opening the door to a brighter future for all our children at Desert Trails Elementary School,” Diaz said.
“One significant factor in making this decision was comparing academic achievement scores for LaVerne which are trending upward, while API scores for Desert Trails Elementary continue to plummet. Two years, LaVerne had a score of 869 while this past year it achieved a score of 911. For the same period, Desert Trails Elementary had a score of 712, followed by its latest score of 699,” Diaz added.
“Nothing about this journey has been easy for these dedicated parents,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution.
“The defenders of the status quo have done everything it possibly could to stop this day and this vote from happening. From illegal and fraudulent activity to court challenges, they put every possible obstacle in the way of these parents. Today’s vote is a true victory for their persistence and for their commitment to academic excellence for their children.”
“Their vote sends a powerful message to parents across America that they, too, can have a direct voice in reclaiming and transforming failing schools. No parent need ever feel intimidated when they look at what the parents of Desert Trails have achieved,” Austin said.
Desert Trails’ parents, out of a possible 180, cast fifty-three votes. 286 parents signed the Parent Trigger petition in 2011. The DTPU verified 180 current parents.