Parent Trigger School Opens Doors as New Charter

In California, parents took control of their children’s’ education last year and executed the parent trigger option. After legal battles with the school district, parents chose to make Desert Trails Elementary into a charter school to give their children the best possible education. Yesterday, the school opened as Desert Trails Preparatory Academy (DPTA).

In 2011, parents at Desert Trails were discouraged by the school’s performance, and ready to do something about it. The school had received an Academic Performance Index score of 699, which was 30 points below the school district average, and well below the state’s goal of 800. State test scores show that 75% of students were unable to read or write at grade level. Parents began circulating a petition to take control of the education of their children to give them a better chance for success. The petition was turned in in January of last year, setting off a legal battle that lasted until October. Finally, parents prevailed, and were able to choose a charter school. 

DPTA opened their doors Monday with 550 students (now dressed in uniforms) enrolled and more students on a waiting list. With 25 students per teacher and about three quarters of the teachers being bilingual, students will get the classroom support they need to succeed. The new charter school’s teachers are anxious to make a difference. First grade teacher Stacey Dominguez said “I know what we could accomplish here. I wanted to be part of the change.” Sixth-grade teacher Jason Skrzat echoed that sentiment saying “The opportunity’s huge. I want to make a difference.”

As for the school’s director Debra Tarver, she is thrilled to see the school come together. After their back to school night, she said “It was more than I ever expected.” With the eyes of education reformers on this school in California, we look forward to watching the school succeed and the children flourish, encouraging even more parents to take control for their kids. As Tarver said, this isn’t about politics, “It’s about educating kids at this point,” she said. “These guys are my No. 1 priority.”