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L.A. Unified board ratifies 'parent-trigger' partnership

April 16, 2013|By Dalina Castellanos
  • Parent union organizers distributed fliers summarizing four separate proposals to overhaul 24th Street Elementary.
Parent union organizers distributed fliers summarizing four separate… (McClatchy-Tribune )

The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday ratified a partnership between the school district and a charter school to take control of struggling 24th Street Elementary under a controversial parent-empowerment law.

The vote marks the first time a school district has elected not to challenge a petition submitted by parents under the state’s “parent-trigger” law.

The law grants petitioners substantial authority, giving them options that include converting a low-performing campus to an independently operated charter school.

Parents at the Jefferson Park campus favored a partnership between L.A. Unified and Crown Preparatory Academy. The district will manage pre-kindergarten through fourth grade and Crown Prep will handle grades five through eight.

Supporters cheered the outcome after delivering their impassioned pleas to board members.

"I’ve gone to knock on so many doors to get this petition signed," said Amabilia Villeda, wearing a midnight blue shirt with the words "I am the revolution" emblazoned on it.

"This is the moment we have been waiting for," she said.

Erica Valente, who had withdrawn her children from the school, said she now looks forward to re-enrolling them.

"I did everything on my part to create change and I’m so happy my children can return to the school they loved," Valente said.

Parents at 24th Street began organizing three years ago with the assistance of Parent Revolution, a locally based national group that supports parent-trigger campaigns.

The parents and district "represent the new normal of this movement," said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution.  "It’s inspiring that [L.A. Unified] is the first to validate a parent trigger without being forced to do so by a court order."

Crown Prep Executive Director Laura McGowan-Robinson said she welcomed continued parent activism, calling it integral to a successful school.

L.A. Unified board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, the only vote against the pact, complained about a lack of communication between the parent group and the district, including with her.

"Unfortunately, I don't know most of the people who spoke," said LaMotte, who represents the 24th Street neighborhood. "I need to ask that you communicate with the board member who is in charge of the school."

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Twitter: @dalinac

dalina.castellanos@latimes.com

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