Using California’s new “parent trigger” law, 63 percent of Compton parents signed a petition to turn their chronically low-performing elementary school over to a successful charter network. Now parents and activists are charging school officials with intimidation and harassment.
Parents said they were informed that every person who signed must come to the school on Wednesday and Thursday for a five-minute meeting with district employees, and must present photo identification and sign a new petition. If people do not show up for any reason, their signature will be eliminated, parents said.
Some parents can’t make the meetings because of work commitments. Others in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood don’t have photo ID because they’re illegal immigrants.
“It’s not about verification! It is purely about disenfranchisement,” said state Sen. Gloria Romero, who sponsored the parent trigger law.
“This is clearly not about ‘verifying’ anything — it is about the district making up new rules to try to throw away the petitions that we have already submitted,” said Ismenia Guzman, a leader of McKinley Parents for Change.
District staffers complain the petition drive was conducted in secret and that nobody at the school knew about the petition till it was presented. They claim parents didn’t understand what they were signing.
Parent Revolution didn’t inform the school district about the petition drive, but organizers must have contacted a very high percentage of parents to get so many to sign. They must have asked parents to help spread the word. Parents had to be talking about it for weeks. And yet, apparently, not a single parent told a teacher or another school staffer about the petition. Imagine an elementary school in which parents don’t talk to teachers or ask questions. That’s a very strange environment.
Parent Revolution, founded by a former member of the state board of education, has a law firm working pro bono. I don’t think the district will get away with throwing out the signatures.