By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Adelanto)– Parents, teachers, supporters, reporters and news broadcasters among many more all came together at the Adelanto Elementary School District building to find out the Board of Trustees ruling on the Parent Empowerment Petition. The petition, which would change Desert Trails Elementary into a partnership school by way of the Parent Trigger law, was unanimously rejected by the school board for failure to meet 50% threshold required.
Media from around Southern California all gathered for this momentous day; reporters from various newspapers as well as CBS and KCAL news film crews were all on hand to see if the petition would create the partnership using the Parent Trigger law. Holly Odenbaugh, a resident of Adelanto and one of the original members of the Desert Trails Parent Union, had high hopes of the meeting just before it officially started, “Today is a big day for the Desert Trails Parent Union, because we are finally going to get verified on the amount of signatures we collected to turn Desert Trails into a community day school. We gathered 70% of signatures for the Parent Trigger law, it’s supposed to be 50% plus 1% percent, and we gathered 70%. It was kicked back, so we are coming back again before the board with revisions on revisions.”
Odenbaugh has a son in kindergarten at Desert Trails, who started in June, as where Holly joined the Desert Trails Parent Union in August after learning some information about the Adelanto elementary school, “When school first started, I found out how Desert Trails was in it’s six year program improvement.” The Desert Trails Parent Union is pushing for the school to become a community school, in partnership with the Adelanto Elementary School District and the parents of the children attending the school.
Linda Serrato of the Los Angeles based Parent Revolution was also in attendance, as Parent Revolution has helped in the Desert Trails Parent Union’s struggle for change in the school. The Parent Revolution is “an education non-profit that helps parents organize at their schools so they can make changes and essentially have a voice in the process.”
Serrato told High Desert Daily that an organizer from the Parent Revolution has been assisting in Adelanto since mid June in hopes of helping the parents get the school changed into a community partnership school, which would be a partnership between parents, the school district and teachers in running the school. “When parents approached us back in June of 2011, they were essentially saying there were a lot of problems at the school and they wanted to see changes. So we said, “Ok, form a parent union and see if you can work with folks to see changes.” They want to work with the district and this partnership school is the perfect way to do it. The parents are very dedicated in making sure their kids get a good education, that’s been their focus, they have been organizing for months around this idea and that’s what they will keep doing.”
Also in attendance for this historic meeting was Senator Gloria Romero, the author of the Parent Trigger law. The law gives parents the right to demand a change in their child’s constantly struggling school with the support of 51% of parent signatures, which is what was brought into question on Wednesday night. The Adelanto Elementary School District stated that there were some discrepancies with some signatures, and that the number of valid signatures received was below the 51% needed. Senator Romero spoke on the law, and the situation specifically in Adelanto, “This community tonight, you should be proud of to say that these are parents sick and tired of seeing their school on the watch list.”
Romero spoke during public comments and during the special hearing regarding Desert Trails, referencing Dr. Martin Luther King, who’s picture is a part of a mural that is displayed behind the Adelanto Elementary School District Board Members. “I urge you in the spirit of Dr. King, who is still with us tonight, to go with the parents, to make history, take a leap of faith.” Coming all the way from Los Angeles, Senator Romero made it clear how important it was to be in Adelanto on this day. “I have never been here before, but it was very important for me to come here tonight and bear witness to this.”
The unanimous 5-0 votes came after a grueling four-hour meeting, with a packed room of over 100 people that was split almost evenly between those in favor of the Parent Trigger, and those parents and supporters opposed of it in this situation. When asked before the meeting if the worst-case scenario happened tonight and the petition is rejected, Holly Odenbaugh of the Desert Trails Parent Union said with a smile, “We will continue to fight.”
To see the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting, visit the Adelanto Elementary School District website at www.aesd.net. To learn more about the Parent Revolution and the Parent Trigger law, visit the Parent Revolution at http://parentrevolution.org/.