Parents of children who attend the failing 24th Street Elementary School in West Adams dropped a signature petition on Los Angeles Unified School District officials in downtown today, pulling the first Parent Trigger in the country's second largest public school system.
The Parent Trigger, a California law, allows parents to take over a chronically failing school and institute various changes, including setting up a charter school. Past parent triggers have faced stiff opposition from teachers' unions and school district officials.
No one knows exactly how L.A. Unified board president Monica Garcia and her colleagues will respond, but superintendent John Deasy "promised" to work with the parents in the days ahead, according to Parent Revolution executive director Ben Austin, who helped organize the 24th Street Elementary parents.
"The parents were welcomed with open arms by John Deasy," says Austin about today's signature drop.
Earlier this morning, parents from 24th Street Elementary traveled to Los Angeles Unified headquarters and met with Deasy, who accepted their signature petition. Teachers' union chief Warren Fletcher was also present.
Austin says the welcome was much different from two years ago in Compton, where the first Parent Trigger in the country took place and parents were met with stiff opposition from Compton Unified School District officials. Austin believes things have changed between 2010 and 2013.
"This movement is powerful enough," says Austin, "and this law is powerful enough, that the parents will prevail."
24th Street Elementary parent leader Laura Wade, who lives in West Adams and has a son who attends kindergarten at the school, says Deasy told her and other parents that he would "collaborate" with them.
Wade says she feels she's "a part of history because we're the first Parent Trigger at L.A. Unified."
Austin says UTLA's Warren Fletcher appeared as if he was willing to "collaborate" with the parents as well. Austin was unsure how school board members will react in the coming weeks.
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On the GreatSchools.org web site, 24th Street Elementary School, which is located in West Adams, is ranked a lowly 1 out of 10 based on state test results.
Seventy-five percent of the students are Latino, with 23 percent African American. Since 87 percent of the students are eligible for the free or reduced-priced lunch program, the student body is comprised mostly of children from poor or working-class families.
Read the award-winning L.A. Weekly cover story "California's Parent Trigger."
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.