Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Compton parent trigger: School board rejects parents' petition

Compton parent trigger: School board rejects parents' petition -

After two months of controversy, the Compton school board Tuesday rejected a petition by parents aiming to use a groundbreaking state law to turn over their struggling elementary school to a charter operator.

Board members with the Compton Unified School District voted unanimously, 7-0, to return the petition to parents at McKinley Elementary , saying it failed to include information required by state regulations. District officials also found that parents cited the wrong education code section and failed to provide evidence that they had selected their desired charter operator, Celerity Educational Group, after a "rigorous review process" as required by state emergency regulations.

"The petition is materially non-qualifying and is being returned as insufficient," the board found.

The closely watched case represented the first test of a new law giving parents the power to petition for major reforms of low-performing schools, including shutting them down, changing staff and programs, and turning the campus over to a charter operator. Charters are independently run, publicly financed schools.

But the petition campaign was plagued by charges and countercharges of deceit, harassment and lies and created bitter campus divisions. The district drew fire — and a class-action lawsuit — for requiring parents to verify their signatures in person with photo identification. More than 60 parent supporters refused to participate in the process and won a temporary restraining order barring the district from continuing those requirements. It is unclear how the board's decision to reject the petition will affect that legal action.

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