Today, Judge Andrew Banks of the Anaheim Superior Court issued his ruling rejecting and reversing the Anaheim School District’s denial of the Parent Trigger Petition submitted by Palm Lane Elementary parents seeking to transform their Anaheim, California school. Judge Banks’ ruling also denied the Anaheim School District’s request to uphold the Anaheim School Board’s findings that Palm Lane Elementary is not a subject school under the Parent Empowerment Act, and found that the parents’ petition substantially complied with various requirements under the Parent Empowerment Act.
In issuing his ruling, Judge Banks not only upheld the validity of the petition, but found the Anaheim School District’s rejection of the petition to be among other things, “procedurally unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”
Specifically, Judge Banks’ ruling found:
(i) “The evidence clearly establishes that Palm Lane failed to make adequate yearly progress. I therefore find that Palm Lane is a subject school under the Act.”
(ii) The evidence reflects that contrary to the District’s claims, that lead petitioners were identified as required under the Act. “After considering all the evidence, I resolve this issue in favor of the Petitioners.”
(iii) That the petition complied with 5 CCR §4804 and the Restart Model, finding “the evidence convinces the Court that the necessary and required information was provided.”
(iv) That the petition contained more than the required 50% threshold of valid parent signatures. In commenting on the District’s validation process, Judge Banks stated: “I find the process set up and utilized by the Respondents was unreasonable, unfair and incomplete.”
In issuing his Order, Judge Banks ordered the Anaheim School District and the Anaheim City School District Board of Education to:
1. Within 20 calendar days of the date the Writ is signed, rescind the February 19, 2015, action of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education that rejected the Parent Trigger Petition;
2. Within the same 20 calendar days, accept the Parent Trigger Petition submitted on January 14, 2015; and
3. Allow Petitioners to immediately begin the process of soliciting and selecting charter school proposals.
Celilia Ochoa, one of the lead petitioners commented, “In speaking for all the Palm Lane Elementary parents, we are grateful for Judge Banks ruling and his support of our efforts for our children to receive the basic education they are entitled to and deserve.”
Former Senator Gloria Romero, head of the California Center for Parent Empowerment and author of the Parent Trigger law, stated: “Today justice prevailed in a court of law. The District tried to spin a fantasy to invalidate the petition and used obstructionist tactics. The judge clearly ruled in favor of the parents. Tomorrow begins another day in the life of these children. For these parents and their children, dreams do come true.”
Mark Holscher, pro bono attorney for Kirkland & Ellis LLP, commented: “We appreciate the care and consideration Judge Banks gave the parents in this case. This ruling impacts all schools that have been designated a failing school by California Board of Education and continues to pave the way for parents across California to secure their fundamental right to a quality education for their children.”
To read the decision and order in its entirety, please click here.
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