Parent trigger used to oust principal

Using the parent trigger law, Los Angeles parents have ousted the principal of their low-performing elementary school. The school board voted 5-2 to accept the parents petition after 61 percent of parents signed on.

Weigand Elementary parents didn’t ask for a charter school. They want to fire the principal.

“We support our teachers,” said mother Llury Garcia.

“I think that the teachers are very intimidated right now” by Principal Irma Cobian, whom Garcia said is rarely on campus and has been unresponsive to parent complaints in the past.

The district will name a new principal for the school, which serves low-income Hispanic students.

Parent Revolution, which helped Weigand parents organize, is touting the campaign as evidence trigger laws are about empowering parents, not promoting charter schools.

“We keep hearing about how “parent trigger” is anti-teacher and about privatizing schools,” writes Eduwonk. The Weigand trigger could change the debate.

About Joanne


  1. A farmer goes to the railroad station to fetch his brother, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty years.

    After a brief hug and some mumbled pleasantries the farmer puts his brother’s trunk in the back of his mule-drawn wagon.

    They both climb aboard and the farmer snaps the reins to get the mule to started home. The animal ignores the farmer. The farmer snaps the reins again, more forcefully. Again the mule ignores him.

    Sighing heavily the farmer climbs down from the wagon and, reaching under the seat draws forth a two-by-four. Walking around to stand before the mule he hits the animal between the eyes with a blow so powerful that it drives the animal to its knees.

    Climbing back into the wagon he snaps the reins again and, the mule having regained it’s feet, moves out at a brisk pace.

    The farmer turns to his horrified, gaping brother and explains, “first you’ve got to get his attention”.

    It may just be that parent trigger’s just the two-by-four parents need to put the “education” back into the public education system.

  2. CarolineSF says:

    Los Angeles Times 5/24/13
    Popular principal’s dismissal leaves a South L.A. school divided
    Irma Cobian was highly regarded at Weigand Avenue Elementary in Watts. But under California’s 2010 trigger law, she was ousted last week. ‘It devastated our morale,’ one teacher said.

    By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

    May 24, 2013, 4:08 p.m.

    Third-grade teacher Kate Lewis said Irma Cobian is the best principal she’s had in nine years at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts.

    Joseph Shamel called Cobian a “godsend” who has used her mastery of special education to show him how to craft effective learning plans for his students.

    Los Angeles Unified Supt. John Deasy praised a plan developed by Cobian and her team to turn around the struggling campus — where most students test below grade level in reading and math — calling it a “well-organized program for accelerated student achievement.” He thanked Cobian for her commitment and hard work.

    So why did the school board oust Cobian from her job last week?

    That question has raged on the Weigand campus ever since board members voted 5 to 2 to accept a petition demanding Cobian’s removal.

    Under California’s 2010 trigger law, parents at low-performing schools can force out staff, change the curriculum, close the campus or convert it to an independent, publicly funded charter. At Weigand, the district verified signatures of parents representing 221 of 420 students, or 53%; 35 signatures were thrown out as invalid.

    It was the state’s first successful campaign to remove an administrator, and a sign of the power that can be wielded by a group of disaffected parents. But the outcome has prompted elected officials and education groups to call for closer monitoring of trigger campaigns.

    Parent leader Llury Garcia said that although her second-grade daughter has done fairly well at Weigand, Cobian was inaccessible and rude. She and other petition backers were assisted by Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles nonprofit that lobbied for the parent trigger law and is aiding overhaul efforts at several other Los Angeles campuses.

    “We want strong leadership,” said Garcia, who has kept her daughter at Weigand instead of her neighborhood school because of concerns about bullying. “We support our teachers.”

    But in a show of loyalty to Cobian, 21 of 22 teachers have asked for transfers to other schools. Several said the petition campaign has poisoned the campus. Profanity has been scrawled on walls and even on Cobian’s car. Others said they have no desire to stay without the leader who inspired them.

    “It devastated our morale,” said Robyn Hernandez, who followed Cobian to Weigand in 2010. “It felt like a betrayal of something we had worked so hard for.”

    Kathleen McGrath, a district instructional director who works with Weigand, said it could take three years to rebuild a team and get the campus back on track.

    This week, parents voted to accept Cobian’s turnaround plan as the next step forward. Although a Parent Revolution statement quoted Garcia as saying that parents “spent several months carefully reviewing” the plan, she told The Times last week that she had never read it and disagreed with key elements, such as its focus on reading and writing.

    The day after the removal vote, Cobian, 53, made no attempt to mask her emotions.

    Trying to cheer herself up, she dropped by Lewis’ class to give prizes to those who have read 25 books this year. Cobian whooped for Andrea’s 28 and encouraged Joseph to push his 11 to 15.

    “I need happiness today,” Cobian told the bright-eyed students. “What do I do when I’m sad?”

    “Come here!” the students sang out.

    For a moment, her sadness gave way to smiles. But later, she said: “I am crushed.”

    More than two decades ago, Cobian walked away from a high-powered law firm to teach. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she said she was inspired by a newspaper article about the low high school graduation rates of Latinos and wanted to make a difference.

    Her passion for social justice led her to Watts in 2009.
    Read the rest of the story:,0,2379800.story

  3. Just Looking says:

    If the teachers were intimidated by Cobian, why did 21 of 22 teachers request transfers after she was ousted.

    I have a feeling that this is going to be a mess.

  4. So the quoted parent won’t send her kids to her neighborhood school because of “concerns about bullying,” then promptly leads a campaign to get the principal of her kids’ new school fired. Sounds like someone who goes looking for problems. God help us if parents like this now have the power to make staffing decisions. And God help the new principal, who surely has only a short time before this parent finds some new problem to have a tantrum about.