With a low voter turnout Thursday, parents exercising a “parent trigger” option at the Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto selected a charter operator in nearby Hesperia to run their school starting next August. The selection of LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, a small K-8 charter with an API of 911 – more than 200 points above Desert Trails’ score of 699 this year – marked the next stage in parents’ contentious and protracted exercise of California’s parent empowerment law.
Teachers at the school, who may lose their jobs in the conversion to a charter school, as well as parents opposing the move, will seize on the vote by only 53 parents. Last spring, 286 parents, representing a majority of the students enrolled in the K-5 school, signed the petition that gave them the power to determine how to transform their low-performing school. But the district resisted the effort, and the school board sought to invalidate many of the parent signatures. Legal fights pushed plans for a charter conversion back a year. With last year’s sixth grade moving on and some families in the economically depressed Mojave Desert area relocating, the Desert Trails Parents Union could certify only 180 parents eligible to vote yesterday, according to David Phelps, a spokesman for Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that has organized parent groups around the parent trigger law.