LOS ANGELES – TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013 – Parents in the Southern California community of Desert Trails are making history this week with the opening of the first ever school anywhere in the United States fully transformed by the use of a ‘Parent Empowerment’ law.

After a two-year struggle with the status quo – including two California Superior Court hearings and decisions in favor of parent efforts – the Desert Trails Preparatory Academy is welcoming students this week for the start of the 2013-2014 school year. The Academy, a high performing, not-for-profit charter school, was selected by Desert Trails' parents following the success of their 2011-2012 Parent Trigger campaign to replace the previous chronically failing elementary school.

“For the parents and children of Desert Trails, it is a wonderful and exciting new chapter. Although there were times when we wondered if we would ever see this day, we knew our children were counting on us, and so we kept on going. Last year, Hollywood tried to tell our story. Today, with our new school opening, it’s a better ending than anything than Hollywood could make,” said Cynthia Ramirez, lead parent coordinator for the Desert Trails Parent Union.

“The parents of Desert Trails have done something that only a few years ago was unthinkable. Now, because of these parents, the power the law gives them has become real and tangible. We can walk through the school campus and see children engaged and learning. We feel the parent’s optimism that their child will succeed academically and will have a bright future. Parents all across America can share that optimism because of what the Desert Trail parents have achieved,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution.

“We can no longer just pay lip-service to parental involvement in schools. Instead, parents must be empowered to stand up and say the status quo isn’t good enough for their children. When school districts and communities have failed to improve their schools, it is unconscionable to ask parents and their children to wait. They have waited long enough. Parent Trigger gives parents not just a voice, but a say in and involvement in the quality of their child’s school. I believe they have the right to be heard,” said Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House of Representatives Education & Workforce Committee.

In addition to the opening of Desert Trails Preparatory Academy, the Desert/Mountain Children’s Center (DMCC) will immediately begin providing counseling services to children in the Desert Trails community who meet the counseling criteria. Services to be provided include individual, group and family counseling.

This will be followed in the near future with the opening of the Desert Trails Preparatory Family Resource Center on the school campus, where DMCC will offer a clothes closet, food bank, tutoring services and linkage to other community resources. A significant component of the Family Resource Center is the involvement of parents and parent education. Consequently, there will be a strong focus on strengthening family relationships.

“For more than 20 years, the Desert/Mountain Children's Center has been providing counseling services to children, youth and their families from birth to 22 years of age. We specialize in school-based treatment services, intensive therapeutic services and infant/toddler mental health services, providing nurses and psychiatric services through a psychiatrist as well as offering nutrition and health education classes. We currently serve over 5,000 children and youth each year in the Desert/Mountain region. We’re excited about now bringing our services to the Desert Trails community,” said Jenae Holtz, director of the Desert/Mountain Children’s Center.

NOTE

Three other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – 24th Street Elementary School, Weigand Avenue Elementary, and Haddon Avenue Elementary – will all begin the 2013-2014 school year in mid-August with new school transformation models as a result of parent empowerment organizing efforts in those locations.

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AuthorParent Revolution