Louisiana Has A Five-Year-Old 'Parent Trigger' Law That No Parent Has Ever Used

10/08/2017 10:21 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2017
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On the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) website, there is a curious link for “parent petition”:

PARENT PETITION

In 2012, Louisiana enacted the parent petition law in La. R.S. 17:10.5 to enable parents to transfer their children’s consistently low-performing school to the Recovery School District to be transformed into a charter school. The Recovery School District (RSD) is a statewide school district under the Louisiana Department of Education that works with charter operators to transform academically struggling schools into high-performing charter schools. The Recovery School District currently oversees charter schools in Orleans, East Baton Rouge, and Caddo parishes.

For a school to be eligible to be transformed into an RSD charter school through the Parent Petition process, the school must have received a letter grade of “D” or “F” for the past three consecutive years (2014 Letter Grade, 2015 Letter Grade, 2016 Letter Grade). Please click below for more information on the process, including the list of eligible schools, the official parent petition form, FAQs and a timeline of important deadlines.

2016-2017 PARENT PETITION ELIGIBLE SCHOOLS

2016-2017 PARENT PETITION FORM

016-2017 PARENT PETITION GUIDE

The above arrangement is a form of “parent trigger” legislation– one that supposedly allows parents to assume control in the restructuring of a “failing” school. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) promotes its “parent Trigger Act” as “model legislation” based on the idea of Parent Revolution leader, Ben Austin.

Though Parent Revolution is known for implanting its own people into locales in order to create a pseudo-grass-roots “revolution,” Austin’s parent trigger idea has pretty much been a corporate reform flop. (Click here for background on Austin, ALEC, and parent trigger.) Austin left Parent Revolution in 2014, which is about the time that Google searches of that “parent trigger” revolution-not-so-much go quiet until September 2017, when Austin reappears as leader of a new nonprofit gig.

What is interesting in the LDOE “parent petition” description above is that the only option it allows parents is to hand a school over to the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) for the purpose of converting the school to a charter school.

LDOE offers no option for the school to remain a traditional public school. However, the referenced legislation, La. RS 17:10.5, does not automatically equate parent-initiated state takeover with the school in question’s becoming a charter school.

From the original legislation, La. RS 17:10.5:

A failed school shall be reorganized, as necessary, and operated by the Recovery School District pursuant to its authority in whatever manner is determined by the administering agency of the Recovery School District to be most likely to bring the school to an acceptable level of performance as determined pursuant to the accountability plan.

According to the legislation above, RSD could decide to convert the school into a charter; however, it seems that the intent of the legislation is that the state consider what is the best course of action on a case-by-case basis.

In communicating their so-called La. RS 17:10.5 “school takeover empowerment” to parents, LDOE shadily restricts all possible outcomes to one alone: RSD charter school.

On October 05, 2017, I submitted a public records request to LDOE for information about usage of Louisiana’s parent petition:

As per Louisiana Public Records Statutes, please provide:

Copies of parent petition forms filed from 2012 to present for the purpose of converting “low performing schools” into RSD charters as per the parent petition law in La. RS 17:10.5 and as advertised on the LDE website at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/schools/parent-petition.

A comprehensive list of the names of such “low performing schools” that have been converted to RSD charter schools as a result of the above-named parent petition process.

Below is the response I received on October 06, 2017:

 

No parent petitions filed.

No revolution.

As a post script, let me add a note of irony:

State-run, state-proclaimed solution, RSD, also includes a number of schools that qualify as failing based upon the criteria for failing as outlined in the parent petition:

…a letter grade of “D” or “F” for the past three consecutive years (2014 Letter Grade, 2015 Letter Grade, 2016 Letter Grade).

RSD school name; school grades for 2016, 2015, and 2014:

  • Nelson Elementary: F, F, D

  • Gentilly Terrace Elementary: D, D, D

  • The NET Charter High School: F, F, F

  • Paul Habans Charter School: D, F, F

  • ReNew Accelerated High School West Bank: F, F, F

  • Linwood Public Charter School: F, F, D

  • Arise Academy: F, D, D

  • Mildred Osborne Charter School: D, D, D

  • Sylvanie Williams College Prep: D, D, D

  • Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School: D, D, D

  • William J. Fischer Accelerated Academy: F, F, D

  • McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter School: F, D, D

  • Algiers Technology Academy: D, D, D

  • Joseph Clark Preparatory High: D, D, F

The state-run RSD is mostly comprised of schools located in New Orleans (68 schools); however, it also has some schools from East Baton Rouge (8 schools); Caddo (2 schools); St. Helena (1 school), and Pointe Coupe (1 school).

As per 2016 legislation, RSD New Orleans schools (which are now all charter schools) are headed back to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), sort of: OPSB does not exercise the same control over charters as it does over the four, traditional, direct-run schools. By July 1, 2019, final transfer of all RSD schools to their local school boards must be completed.

If there is no longer an RSD, there is no need for a parent petition. However, given that no parent elected to use the parent petition, there is already no need for it.

State-run RSD schools that themselves qualified as failing and therefore are eligible to be taken over by the state that already is overseeing them will be allowed to quietly transfer back to original districts, thus allowing the state that failed them to be let off of the hook.

Another instance of the osteoporotic nature of corporate reform.

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Originally posted 10-06-17 at deutsch29.wordpress.com.

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