Final draft of parent trigger regs moves forward at SBE

Draft regulations that would permanently govern the states' grounding-breaking Parent Empowerment Act won passage Thursday before the California State Board of Education.

The rules, which had been amended from an initial set released in November, will now circulate for a 15-day public comment period and would return to the state board in January perhaps for final adoption.

Although the state board adopted emergency regulations implementing the act last July and began the rulemaking process for the final rules in September - a number of critics asked the board to delay starting the 15-day comment period given the pending holidays and the fact that copies of the final rules were not released publicly until Tuesday evening.

One board member, Jim Aschwanden, echoed those concerns saying that the Parent Empowerment program is a historic step for California public schools and the rules should not be rushed through.

I don't appreciate having 47-pages dropped on my lap the morning of our meeting," Aschwanden said, lamenting that the board is starting the public comment period over the last 15 days of December.

"It's the appearance of this that I'm not happy with and I don't want to be associated with," he said just prior to casting the lone vote against moving the rules ahead.

Developed last January as part of the state's failed effort to win a federal Race to the Top grant, the Parent Empowerment Act provides a petition process to parents of students enrolled in low-performing schools to initiate school restructuring that include conversion into a charter and replacing the entire school staff.

The first parent group to use the new petition process, or parent trigger,' submitted signatures to the Compton School District earlier this month aimed at restructuring a low-performing elementary school into a charter.

A number of parents of students from the Compton elementary school and the Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution appeared before the state board Wednesday urging adoption but also complaining about defense tactics being employed by the school district.

A representative of the California Teachers Association also suggested that leaders of the petition campaign may have said misleading statements to parents.

In response from a request from board member Alan Arkatov, board president Ted Mitchell said he will ask that the state's Attorney General to launch an investigation into allegations of misconduct on both sides of the Compton restructuring.

Mitchell, largely speaking for the rest of the board, said that the empowerment regulations had been publicly circulated since November and now with new amendments would be circulated again for two more weeks before coming back to the board.

"I, too, would like to have had more time," he said. "But at some point, the perfect becomes the enemy of the good."

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