It's official. For the first time ever in the United States, a California school district has approved a Parent Trigger, which allows parents to make changes to a failing school.

The landmark decision by the Adelanto School District to allow Desert Trails Elementary School in the Mojave Desert to convert to a charter school didn't come without a 18-month struggle and a lawsuit, but last night school district board members gave the go-ahead.

“In working together with the parents and the charter school operator to arrive at this decision,” said Desert Trails Parent Union lead coordinator Cynthia Ramirez in a press statement, “the school board has set an example for other parents and districts across the country on how to use Parent Trigger legislation to transform otherwise failing public schools.”

The first attempt to pull a Parent Trigger, a California law that allows parents of children who attend a failing school to essentially take it over, took place in Compton in 2010. That ran into a dead end when the Compton Unified School District successfully refused to approve the trigger based on a technicality.

The movie Won't Back Down, starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, was inspired by the Compton effort and the award-winning L.A. Weekly cover story “California's Parent Trigger.”

Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution, a parent advocacy group, has been the force behind triggers in both Compton and Adelanto.

“This will be a continuing collaborative effort,” Parent Revolution executive director Ben Austin said in a press statement. “We are confident Desert Trails Elementary School can – and will – become an outstanding model of what can be achieved when parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members and local communities are focused on a kids-first agenda in all their decision-making.”

The Obama Administration and many major politicians across the country support the Parent Trigger law and are looking to bring it to other cities and states.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

LA Weekly