Los Angeles 'Parent Trigger' School Sets Precedent With Public-Charter Hybrid

One of the first 'parent trigger' schools reopened this week as a historic district-charter hybrid.

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"They were submitting a proposal to win back the right to run their own failing school, fully understanding that they had lost all power, and that the only way to win it back was to submit a proposal that was better than a high-quality charter operator," Austin says. "The ultimate decision was not going to be with the school board, it was going to be with a bunch of moms."

So the parents began negotiating, and eventually came to an agreement that the district and charter company would work together to run the school.

"The parents were very clear about what they wanted for 24th Street," says Tommy Chang, the district's instructional area superintendent. "We listened in a very authentic way and responded to them with a plan that meets their requests for the school."

[DEBATE: Communities Need Parent Trigger Laws]

Under the agreement, the elementary school (which previously served kindergarten through fifth grades) will add a preschool and middle school. The school district will oversee preschool through fourth grade, Crown Prep will run fifth through eighth grade and teachers from both sides will work together to ensure that there is a guaranteed and seamless transition for students moving from fourth to fifth grade.

"We have at this school an amazing group of parents who are extremely sophisticated and thoughtful about what they want for their children's education," Chang says. "We are excited as a district to be able to respond to their desires."

Because a district-charter collaboration to run a school is unprecedented, it is unclear how successful 24th Street's model will be. But Chang says he is optimistic that the two will create a "first-of-a-kind partnership" to foster an improved academic experience.

Alcala, whose older son is entering sixth grade at the school, says she has "very high hopes" for the redesigned school.

"Now, it's more of a family feeling at the school, and not two divided areas," Alcala says. "Teachers from both schools are in better communication and are working to function as one."

One of Alcala's biggest hopes, she says, is being able to see the children in her community have the opportunity for a great education, "regardless of where they live or what they look like."

"All kids deserve the same type of education," Alcala says. "Just because these students live in a low income neighborhood, it doesn't mean they can't aspire to receive doctorates or a law degree in the future."

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