DESERT TRAILS PARENTS UNION

Background

Desert Trails Elementary was the worst in the Adelanto Elementary School District, and was in the bottom 10% of elementary schools in the entire state. Only one third of students were on grade level in reading, and the school was progressively getting worse – the API score had decreased 31 points over the previous three years. Parents had worked to improve their school for years without success. Frustrated with the school’s inability to change, they reached out to Parent Revolution for help.

Campaign

The parents formed their own autonomous parents union chapter, the Desert Trails Parents Union (DTPU). DTPU put together a list of changes they wanted to see at their children’s school, including everything from excellent teachers in every classroom to a safer campus to increased instructional time.  Their strong preference at every stage was to find a way to achieve these goals via in-district reform.

After the District refused to even negotiate with parents about their desired objectives, parents launched a Parent Trigger campaign to put pressure on district leadership and bring them to the table.  Even after gathering petitions representing 70% of the students at Desert Trails Elementary in support of their desired changes, the district refused to work collaboratively with parents, choosing instead to illegally throw out and deny their petitions. Parents successfully sued and won the right to have their voice heard, and when the district continually refused to negotiate with them, DTPU was forced to look for a high quality charter school operator to take over and transform their school instead.

Result

Of the two high performing charter school operators who applied for the opportunity to transform Desert Trails Elementary, the parents chose La Verne Preparatory Academy, a local charter school operator where over 80% of the students are proficient in both English and math and receive a rich curriculum that includes a heavy focus on learning Latin and the arts.  Desert Trails Preparatory Academy opened under new management in July 2013, and has completely transformed the former school into one of high achievement.  The school now teaches all students both Latin and Spanish, and enrichment classes of music, arts and sports have been incorporated into the curriculum. Additionally, there is a radically improved culture at the school, one in which both parents and students feel welcomed and safe.  Today, the Desert Trails Parents Union continues to work collaboratively with their new school operator to ensure the continued success of their community school.

Statistics (2011-2012)
Grades: K-5
Enrollment: 696
2012 Base API: 700
Demographics

  • 59% Hispanic
  • 28% African American
  • 82% Low-Income

Proficiency Rates

  • 70% NOT at grade level ELA
  • 63% NOT at grade level in Math
“The kids are actually motivated now to go to school, the environment is much different. The kids are happy, parents are relaxed, kids are motivated, they’re doing work. ... I didn’t know it was going to be this good.” – Cynthia Ramirez