Civil Courts Deciding New Orleans Charter-School Segregation Issue

Civil lawsuits are as much a part of America’s charter school landscape as blackboards and parental ire, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is one of the latest battlegrounds. At issue is the Greater Grace Charter Academy a bit west of New Orleans that is 93 percent black enrollment, but where the population is only 62 percent black, according to the Associated Press.

In a report posted on the NOLA news website, the AP says that “… Louisiana’s education board approved the school’s charter and U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman allowed the opening last August. He noted the school has a non-discriminatory enrollment policy. He said blocking the opening would punish students who chose to enroll there. Opponents argue that approving a nearly one-race school ‘is contrary to the goals of desegregation.'”

Arguments are expected to be heard this month. Read the AP report here:
Charter school segregation lawsuit goes to U.S. appeals court

Education Nominee Brings School Choice To The Federal Spotlight

Children hold up “Parent Revolution” signs during a press conference held next to Desert Trails Preparatory Academy in Adelanto in 2013. Parents used a state law to transform their local low-performing public elementary school into a not-for-profit charter campus. (Los Angeles Times)

As Democrats leveled sharp questions at Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s education nominee, this week, they stressed her decades of support for the charter school movement. Clearly, the Trump Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress will make “school choice” a spotlight issue, including the “parent trigger” movement that didn’t really come up in the DeVos questioning, perhaps because her efforts have mostly been in Michigan.

Parent trigger is the idea that parents can more or less take over a failing school. A half-dozen states have some level of parent trigger law, but the one that’s been most lawsuit-tested is California’s. The Golden State actually passed the nation’s first such law in 2010, and of course litigation came shortly after.

Natasha Lindstron, a respected reporter who has covered the California Parent Trigger since its passage, offers a good overview report here http://hechingerreport.org/parent-trigger-showdowns-loom-nationwide/

And if you’d like to see how The Los Angeles Times, which supported the original parent trigger legislation, feels about it now, check that out here:
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-parent-trigger-20150803-story.html

Lawsuits, Legislation On Tap As California Charter Schools Keep Attracting Students

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About one-fifth of students in the San Diego Unified School District have turned to charters such as College Preparatory Middle School, above. The district expects that figure to climb. (Misael Virgen / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Los Angeles Times has a detailed report from the front lines of the Golden State’s public charter schools battles, noting that “… twenty-five years after the California Charter School Act allowed public money to fund charter schools, which can be privately run and are often not unionized, advocates across the county and the state are waging legal and legislative fights. These disputes have led to tense relationships in districts that are scrambling to recoup the thousands of students who have sought alternatives.

Some numbers in the report: In the 2008-09 academic year, 38,680 students attended 73 charter schools in San Diego County. This year, 69,685 students are enrolled in 124 charters. But with growth comes questions.

San Diego County has emerged as a sort of Ground Zero for the California schools debate, although Los Angeles has its share of lawsuits as well.

Read the well-researched report here: Inside the fight against California’s charter schools

California Columnist: Lawsuit Likely If Parent-Trigger School Index Nixed

Since its passage in 2010, California’s “parent trigger” charter school movement has been the subject of litigation, perhaps most notably in the landmark “Palm Lane Elementary School” case in Anaheim. The “trigger” laws allow parents to demand reform at failing schools, including converting the school to a charter school. The California move triggered a handful of other states to take up similar provisions.
 
Now, says Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, Golden State lawmakers are considering dropping one part of that parent trigger legislation, the so-called Academic Performance Index, or “API.” The standardized testing program was passed before the parent trigger, but was eventually linked to the controversial charter school efforts. Walters says removing the API will likely mean yet another lawsuit.

 

He writes that “… Gloria Romero, the former Democratic state senator who wrote the parent trigger law, says that if the API disappears, the Legislature should be duty-bound to provide a new performance measure for parents. However, the staff recommendation before the state school board is to eliminate the API and “identify the obsolete and outdated references to the API that need to be removed” as part of its repeal, implying that the parent trigger law should also die.”
 
If the API is repealed without a replacement measure for parent trigger, Romero tells Walters, a lawsuit would be the next step, which would not be unusual. He notes that “… school reform and civil rights groups have often sued, usually successfully, in their battles with the establishment over accountability and other flashpoint issues.”