BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 734


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          Date of Hearing:  April 29, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION


                              Patrick O'Donnell, Chair


          AB 734  
          (Kim) - As Amended March 23, 2015


          SUBJECT:  School intervention:  parent empowerment:  petition  
          appeal


          SUMMARY:  Authorizes a charter school to appeal to a county  
          board of education if a local educational agency (LEA) does not  
          implement the option specified in a Parent Empowerment Program  
          (PEP) petition.   Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Specifies that if a LEA receives a petition pursuant to PEP  
            and does not implement the option requested in the petition in  
            its final disposition of the petition, the petitioners may  
            appeal the final disposition of the petition to the county  
            board of education.


          2)Authorizes the county board of education to approve the appeal  
            if it finds that the LEA acted in violation of any requirement  
            of the PEP or the PEP regulations specified in Title 5 of the  
            California Code of Regulations, or did not act in good faith.   
            Requires the LEA to implement the option requested in the  
            petition if the county board of education approves the appeal.


          EXISTING LAW:  








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          1)Establishes the PEP as follows:

             a)   Requires a LEA to implement one of the four  
               interventions for turning around persistently  
               lowest-achieving schools as defined in Race to the Top  
               (RTTT) statute or the Alternative Governance reform  
               described in Section 1116(b)(8)(B)(v) of the federal No  
               Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that is selected by  
               parents for any school not identified as persistently  
               lowest-achieving, has an Academic Performance Index (API)  
               score of less than 800, but that is subject to corrective  
               action, if at least one-half of the parents or legal  
               guardians of pupils attending the school, or a combination  
               of at least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of  
               pupils attending the school and the elementary or middle  
               schools that normally matriculate into the middle or high  
               school, sign a petition making the request.  

             b)   Specifies that the LEA may choose another RTTT or NCLB  
               intervention only if the LEA makes a written finding at a  
               regularly scheduled public hearing as to why it cannot  
               implement the option requested by parents, and notifies the  
               SPI and the SBE that the option selected by the LEA has  
               substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate  
               yearly progress (AYP).  Also restricts this program to the  
               first 75 schools that inform the SPI and SBE of the final  
               disposition of the petition.

             c)   Specifies that a LEA shall not be required to implement  
               the option requested by the parent petition if the request  
               is for reasons other than improving academic achievement or  
               pupil safety.

          2)Defines "persistently lowest-achieving schools", under the  
            RTTT program, as the following:
             a)   The lowest 5% of the low-achieving schools (schools in  
               Program Improvement) as measured by the academic  








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               achievement of all students in a school in terms of  
               proficiency on the state's assessment in reading/language  
               arts and mathematics combined;

             b)   The lowest 5% of secondary schools, as measured by the  
               academic achievement of all students in a school in terms  
               of proficiency on the state's assessment in  
               reading/language arts and mathematics combined, that are  
               eligible for but do not receive Title 1 funds;

             c)   Any high school with a graduation rate less than 60% in  
               each of the last three years; and,

             d)   Excludes, to the extent allowable under federal law,  
               specified special needs or alternative schools and those  
               schools that have experienced academic growth of at least  
               50 points on the API, unless the SPI and SBE jointly  
               overrule that exclusion.  Also authorizes the SPI and SBE  
               to jointly exclude a community day school from this  
               definition.  



          FISCAL EFFECT:  The Legislative Counsel has keyed this bill as a  
          state-mandated local program.


          COMMENTS:  Background.  In February 2009, the President signed  
          into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,  
          which, among others, established $4 billion for one-time State  
          Incentive Grants known as the RTTT.  One of the eligibility  
          requirements for RTTT is identifying, including establishing a  
          definition for, persistently lowest-achieving schools in the  
          state and requiring these schools to implement one of four  
          intervention models, as follows:


          1)Turnaround model:  Replace the principal and 50% of the  
            existing staff; implement strategies to recruit, place and  








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            retain staff with the skills necessary to meet the needs of  
            students; use data to improve instructional program; provide  
            high-quality professional development that is aligned with the  
            school's instructional program; among others.

          2)Restart model:  Convert a school to a charter school, or close  
            and reopen a school under a charter school operator, a charter  
            management organization, or an education management  
            organization.

          3)School closure:  Close a school and enroll the students in  
            other higher achieving schools in the LEA.

          4)Transformation model:  Similar to the Turnaround model,  
            replace the principal and develop strategies focusing on  
            principal and teacher effectiveness, instructional reform,  
            increasing learning time and creating community-oriented  
            schools, and providing operational flexibility and support.

          Parent Empowerment Program.  SBX5 4 (Romero), Chapter 3,  
          Statutes of 2009-10 Fifth Extraordinary Session, established the  
          PEP whereby parents and legal guardians at a school  not   
          identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school under the  
          RTTT, has an API score of under 800 and has been in corrective  
          action for at least one academic year, can require a governing  
          board to implement any of the RTTT interventions or an  
          alternative intervention authorized by the NCLB if at least  
          one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending  
          the school, or a combination of at least one-half of the parents  
          or legal guardians of the pupils attending the school and its  
          elementary or middle feeder schools, sign a petition making the  
          request.  


          SBX5 4 authorizes a governing board to choose another RTTT or  
          NCLB intervention if it makes written findings in a regularly  
          scheduled public hearing of the reason it cannot implement the  
          intervention requested by parents and guardians, and inform the  
          SPI and the SBE how the alternative intervention it has selected  








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          has substantial promise of enabling the school to meet AYP.   
          SBX5 4 limits the number of affected schools to the first 75  
          statewide; excludes schools with an API of 800 or higher; and  
          specifies that a LEA is not required to comply with the petition  
          request if the reason for the request is not related to academic  
          achievement or pupil safety.     


          Persistently lowest achieving schools.  Because California did  
          not receive a RTTT grant, the state used the "persistently  
          lowest achieving" schools list established for School  
          Improvement Grants as a substitute.  Persistently lowest  
          achieving schools are the lowest 5% of low achieving schools.   
          These schools are already required to implement one of the  
          intervention models.  The schools subject to PEP are those not  
          considered the lowest achieving schools in the state.  


          The PEP statutes do not provide many specific parameters about  
          the process, such as who is eligible to sign the petition, the  
          process for collecting signatures, or how signatures are to be  
          verified.  In 2011, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted  
          regulations that established the parameters and timelines for  
          submission and verification of signatures.    


          How many parent triggers?  All of the petitions for the PEP have  
          occurred in southern California.  They include:


          Compton:  The first PEP submitted to a school district was in  
          Compton Unified School District in December 2010, which was  
          rejected by the Compton Unified School District governing board  
          in 2011 after much confusion and conflict over what petitioners  
          and LEAs may or may not, or were or were not required, to do.   
          Opponents of the petition complained about paid petitioners, of  
          being harassed and misled about the purpose of the petition.   
          This petition resulted in a lawsuit when the school district  
          required parents to verify their signature by showing some form  








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          of identification.  Ultimately, a charter school was opened at a  
          nearby church instead of at the schoolsite.  


          Adelanto:  The next petition also resulted in a lawsuit in the  
          Adelanto Elementary School District in San Bernardino.  Similar  
          to the Compton Unified experience, parents complained of  
          harassment and of being misled at the Desert Trails Elementary  
          School.  The governing board rejected the petition when parents  
          asked to rescind their signatures, which reduced the number of  
          signatures to below 50%.  The court ruled that the law did not  
          authorize rescission of signatures and required the governing  
          board to accept the signatures.  The school was converted to a  
          charter school.  


          Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):  In 2013, parents  
          at the 24th Street Elementary School in the LAUSD submitted a  
          petition.  Then Superintendent John Deasy worked with the  
          petitioners and agreed to a shared governance plan allowing a  
          charter school to take over fifth through eighth grades.  The  
          governing board approved the agreement.        


          Anaheim:  The most recent PEP was submitted in Anaheim this  
          year.  The Anaheim City School District governing board rejected  
          a petition to convert Palm Lane Elementary School into a charter  
          school, citing insufficient valid signatures.  Petitioners have  
          filed a lawsuit.       


          What does this bill do?  This bill authorizes petitioners to  
          appeal to the county board of education if a LEA fails to  
          implement the option requested in a PEP petition.  The county  
          board of education is authorized to approve the appeal if it  
          finds that the LEA violated the requirements specified in the  
          law and in regulations adopted by the SBE, or if the LEA did not  
          act in good faith.  If the county board of education approves  
          the appeal, the bill requires the LEA to implement the option  








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          requested in the petition.  


          This bill has two effects.  The bill can be interpreted as  
          authorizing an appeal because the school district did not  
          implement the option chosen by the petitioners.  For the most  
          part, the PEP has been contentious and has not had the effect of  
          bringing the school community together to improve conditions at  
          a school.  If a school district believes that the option chosen  
          by the petitioners do not work for that school community, but  
          another option would, the Committee may wish to consider whether  
          the county board of education should be allowed to interfere in  
          an option a school district deems best for that community.


          The bill allows an appeal to the county board of education to  
          determine whether the LEA violated the PEP statutes or  
          regulations established by the SBE, or determine whether the LEA  
          acted in good faith.  Asking the county board of education to  
          determine whether the school district acted in good faith is  
          subjective.  It is not clear how a county board of education  
          would make that determination, nor should a county board of  
          education be put in the position to do so.  Requiring the county  
          board to review the process will include verification of  
          signatures.  The county office of education may not have the  
          capacity to re-verify signatures, nor should it be required to  
          do so.  


          At least one of the lawsuits involves whether parents and  
          guardians have a right to rescind their signatures.  For  
          example, parents have reported signing a petition after being  
          told that the petition is about improving the maintenance of the  
          school.  Parents or guardians who signed the petition not fully  
          understanding what they were signing should be allowed to  
          withdraw their support.  If the Committee chooses to pass this  
          bill, staff recommends an amendment to allow parents and  
          guardians to rescind their signatures within a specified time  
          after the petition was submitted. 








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          Has PEP been effective?  In concept, the PEP was designed to  
          empower parents.  However, in practice, the PEP has become a  
          lightning rod in dividing the school and parent community.   
          Three out of four of the triggers have resulted in lawsuits.   
          Allowing the petitioners to appeal to the county board of  
          education and allowing the county board of education to mandate  
          a school district to implement a reform will only create more  
          discord at the local level.  Schools where the trigger has been  
          pulled only occurred due to assistance from outside  
          organizations with funding.  Furthermore, there are reports that  
          the charter school that took over Desert Trails in Adelante,  
          which was chosen by 53 of 600 parents, has had constant staff  
          turnovers and turmoil.  The Committee may wish to consider  
          reevaluating the PEP and developing a more collaborative process  
          to involve parents and address student achievement.  


          Arguments in support. The author states, "AB 734 ensures the  
          integrity of the parent petition verification process by adding  
          a second layer of appeals for parents.  In the event that a LEA  
          rejects a final petition, parents have the option of appealing  
          to the County Office of Education to ensure the LEA did  
          everything in good faith and followed the law and regulations.   
          If the County Office of Education (COE) finds that the LEA  
          violated the law, the COE would grant the petition."


          Arguments in opposition.  The California Teachers Association  
          (CTA) states, "The implementation of the parent trigger law has  
          been disruptive to the education process.  Parent trigger laws  
          ignite controversy, not parent-school-community collaboration.   
          Described by advocates as a citizen initiative to balance the  
          power between parents, school administrators, and educators in  
          the school reform process, parent trigger laws are being  
          advocated as a "silver bullet" that cuts through the  
          complexities of the "education establishment" and gives parents  
          new, formal, legal power to "fix" their children's schools.  And  








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          on face value, it's hard to disagree with these principles and  
          goals.  Low-income parents of color taking to the streets to  
          take on entrenched and unaccountable school boards and  
          principals are compelling figures to want to get behind.   
          However, those parents and their kids are not the real faces  
          pushing parent trigger.  CTA believes school reform is a shared  
          responsibility and supports policies and practices that link  
          schools, families, and communities to achieve improvement  
          goals."


          Prior related legislation.  AB 2518 (Dababneh), introduced in  
          2014, specifies that if the intervention identified in the  
          petition is the restart model and the petitioners opt to solicit  
          charter school or educational management organization proposals  
          for the selection of a specific charter school or educational  
          management organization operator, then all parents and legal  
          guardians of pupils attending the school have the right to  
          participate in the selection of the charter school or  
          educational management organization operator, regardless of  
          whether they signed the petition.  The author held the bill in  
          this Committee.  


          AB 203 (Brownley), vetoed by the Governor in 2011, made a number  
          of changes to the PEP.


          SBX5 4 (Romero), Chapter 3, Statutes of 2009-10 Fifth  
          Extraordinary Session, enacted the PEP.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support









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          EdVoice




          Opposition


          California Teachers Association


          Public Employees Union Local 1




          Analysis Prepared by:Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087