Media Advisory: Heartland Institute Comments on Thursday Night's Compton Unified School District 'Parent Trigger' Decision

April 04, 2011
Jim Lakely

The Compton Unified School District on Thursday night reiterated its decision to deny a petition by parents at McKinley Elementary School to convert that failing school into an independent charter. More than 62 percent of parents signed the petition, which is the first to be submitted under California's landmark Parent Empowerment Act, also known as the "Parent Trigger."

Compton officials last month rejected the petition, alleging a number of technical problems, such as typographical errors and missing staples. On Thursday night, Compton officials went further, claiming that even though many signatures match names of parents with children at the school, "staff cannot be assured that in all instances the signatures are legitimate." A Los Angeles Superior Court judge gave the district until Friday, April 1 to re-verify the petitions.

The following statements from education policy experts at The Heartland Institute may be used for attribution. For additional comments, please use the contact information below:

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"It's a testament to the sheer stubbornness and tenacity of the education establishment that even in the face of a judge's scrutiny, Compton Unified School District officials would find a way to disqualify McKinley Elementary's parents' signatures, undermining their constitutional rights to petition their government and denying children their right to a better education.

"Clearly, Compton officials do not want their district to set a precedent for others who wish to use California's Parent Trigger law. From the start, the school district has gone out of its way to disrupt and derail the parents' efforts to convert McKinley to an independent charter school.

"Don't forget, Compton Unified's board of trustees last month denied the parents' petition based on what amounted to a litany of technicalities - typos, and so forth. The Los Angeles Superior Court has seen through that ploy, and told district officials to stop playing games with parents and students. They didn't listen."

Ben Boychuk
Managing Editor, School Reform News
Research Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
bboychuk@heartland.org
818/389-2931

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"The findings of the Compton School Board, that less than 50 percent of the parents signed the petition, is merely another mechanism by which the board seeks to deny children access to a better education."

"The lengths to which the district will go to fight, rather than satisfy, parents, is merely more evidence that the system - and not the parents or the teachers - are the problem. It is time for more parents to trigger more schools and expose the district bureaucrats for the obstructionists that they are."

Bruno Behrend
Director, Center for School Reform
The Heartland Institute
bbehrend@heartland.org
312/377-4000

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The Heartland Institute <http://www.heartland.org>  is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.heartland.org or call 312/377-4000.

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