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Parents vote on future of 24th Street Elementary

April 08, 2013|By Howard Blume

Voting began at 7 a.m. Tuesday among parents who will chart the future of 24th Street Elementary School under a controversial parent-empowerment law.

The law -- known as the parent trigger -- grants substantial authority to parents when a majority at a low-performing school sign a petition seeking change. Among their options, parents can replace the principal or the entire staff or hand over the school to an outside operator.

Parents at 24th Street, in Jefferson Park, are choosing among four options. Two involve letting charter school operators take over. A third leaves control for staffing and other changes with the Los Angeles Unified School District. A fourth option -- and the one favored by a parent review committee -- sets up a partnership between L.A. Unified and Crown Preparatory Academy.

Under that proposed collaboration, L.A. Unified would handle kindergarten through fourth grade and Crown Prep would manage grades five through eight.

The 108-year-old school currently enrolls students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Crown Prep already operates on campus, using surplus space for its three-year-old middle school. Charters are independently managed and exempt from some rules that govern traditional schools.

The election will be managed by Parent Revolution, a locally based organization that has lobbied nationwide to give parents the power to force aggressive changes at low-performing schools. A local pastor has agreed to act as an independent observer.

The election is taking place at a local park, a few blocks west of the school, that has become a gathering place for those who organized the petition drive.

Only parents who signed the petition are allowed to vote. Those parents were mailed fliers describing each option. Organizers also have made calls and gone door-to-door to encourage voting and to answer questions.

The events at 24th Street mark the first time that a parent-trigger action has not resulted in legal action and acrimony at the targeted campus. L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and the L.A. school board elected not to challenge the parent petition. Instead, they directed school officials to compete with other proposals. Deasy also met several times with petitioners.

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Twitter: @howardblume | howard.blume@latimes.com

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