This just came over the transom from the Center for Parent Empowerment:

Anaheim Parents Trigger Historic School Transformation File Petitions to Restart Palm Lane Elementary School

Parents announce filing of Parent Empowerment Act petitions to trigger school transformation; will lead official delegation to file school petitions at District headquarters, school; celebratory press conference to follow

Anaheim, CA: Parents at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim, CA will officially file petitions on Wednesday, January 14th, to trigger a restart of their school utilizing California’s historic Parent Empowerment Act, the “Parent Trigger” provision. Palm Lane Elementary has been identified by the California Department of Education as an underperforming school since 2003, posting an anemic 746 Academic Performance Index, dropping 33 API points in the last three years. Student testing results indicate that 60% of 5th graders are below basic levels of proficiency in mathematics, while 63% are below basic levels of proficiency in English Language Arts.

The filing of Parent Trigger petitions at the Anaheim City School District represents the first set of parents in Orange County to utilize the Parent Trigger Law. Parents in other California cities, including Compton, Adelanto, and Los Angeles have made previous efforts.

Cecilia, a Palm Lane parent leader and petitioner, stated “the Anaheim school district keeps telling us the school is doing well but the state data tells us a different story. More importantly, we see the deficiencies in our children’s academic performance: they come home without homework, without being able to read, write, and perform basic math. We don’t see any evidence that our kids are exposed to science, history, health, art, and a complete absence of kids being taught visual and performance arts. This subject matter is required per state standards. It’s not fair. The staff of Palm Lane, the superintendent, and board members have done everything in their power to ignore, discourage and scare us away from living the American Dream. Why do they want to take that away from our children?”

Accompanying the parents in the filing of petitions and celebratory press conference will be Senator Gloria Romero (Ret.) who authored the 2010 historic law and subsequently founded the California Center for Parent Empowerment, which has provided support for the Palm Lane parents; newly elected Orange County Assembly member Young Kim; and Arturo Garcia, District Representative for Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff.

“Here, in the shadow of Disneyland with its promise that dreams that can come true, these parents have organized to truly become the architects of their children’s educational futures. I am proud to stand with these parents as they make history today”, Romero said.

“Providing a quality education for our children is one of the most important tasks of state government. I’m proud to stand with the parents of Palm Lane Elementary School in their fight to ensure that their children receive the quality education that they deserve,” stated Assembly member Kim.

Maggie, another Palm Lane parent petitioner, added “Despite the fact that school officials made many attempts to discourage us and numerous violations against the Parent Empowerment Act, we were committed and always encouraged to continue to fight for a better future for our children. We are grateful to all who stood with us and who are genuinely concerned about our children. Sadly, the district only cares about adult needs and about keeping the status quo alive. It is our hope that parents everywhere will follow our lead and seek a better education for their children”.

Parents began mobilizing prior to the start of the current school year to obtain the signatures needed to initiate a restart model for Palm Lane. Under the Parent Empowerment Act, a restart model will enable the parents to transform the school into a publicly funded, independent charter school. Parents have far exceeded the threshold of signatures needed—50% plus one—to file restart petitions, collecting an estimated 60% of signatures needed to qualify under California’s historic 2010 law, which granted parents the right to transform their own schools. Palm Lane has been designated as chronically underperforming since it was first identified in need of “Program Improvement” in 2003—12 years ago.

Anaheim City schools were even cited in a landmark civil rights voting rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Anaheim, claiming that the chronic underperformance of Anaheim schools contributed to the political disenfranchisement of Latinos, particularly, in Anaheim.

Both the California Center for Parent Empowerment and organizers from Excellent Educational Solutions provided support for parents understanding and exercising their rights under the law.