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Desert Trails Gets Charter

“LaVerne Prep wins by landslide”
by Lynnea Lombardo
Victorville Daily Press
October 19, 2012

LaVerne Preparatory Academy will be the charter school transforming Desert Trails Elementary, winning the parent vote by a landslide late Thursday night, drawing cheers and hugs from the small crowd of parents and children gathered just outside the school.

The small group of Parent Revolution workers, Desert Trails Parent Union parents and children was disbanded quickly, however, as rumors of a bomb threat circled within the crowd, sending everyone back to the Desert Trails Parent Union headquarters a few blocks away.

The threat came as no surprise to Joe Morales, a DTPU member and founder of HD Dads for Education.

“We’ve experienced opposition from the very beginning,” Morales said. “But we are victorious once again.”

LaVerne Prep in Hesperia, which serves mainly minority students, had the highest API score for charter schools in the High Desert and the highest API score in the entire Hesperia Unified School District.

“The parents made the right choice. We are going to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” said Debra Tarver, founder and executive director of LaVerne Prep, via speaker phone at the DTPU headquarters house. “Our job is the kids. We are ready to go there and do whatever it takes to get things the way they need to be.”

According to a press release from Parent Revolution, this is the first time in the United States that parents, using the Parent Trigger law, have had a direct say in who should run their failing school. For the Parent Trigger law to take effect, more than 50 percent of parents with children attending the school had to sign a petition in favor of comprehensive changes they would like to see made. The Adelanto School District Board of Trustees attempted to rescind 97 signatures of parents who claim they were misled and did not want Desert Trails to be turned into a charter. Victorville Superior Court Judge Steve Malone, however, ruled the recisions could be counted toward the total number, maintaining the 50 percent rule.

Voting was only open to those who signed the petition, even if their children left to attend other schools, said Morales, who said he had been helping with the voting since 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

DTPU originally received four proposals; however, one was rejected because it was a for-profit operator and another operator did not move forward with its proposal, according to a press release from Parent Revolution. The two remaining charter school proposals were from the Lewis Academy of Academic Excellence and LaVerne Prep. Both schools boasted high API scores and smaller than average class sizes.

If all goes smoothly for the Parent Union, LaVerne Prep is set to be fully implemented in time for the 2013-14 school year. The district has 60 days to review the charter school proposal and if the district denies it, Doreen Diaz, lead DTPU organizer, said they will appeal and take the issue to the state if need be.

“We’re hoping the district will follow through and approve it,” Diaz said. “We were supported by two judges’ orders and parents really have negotiating power.”

Alfonso Flores, lead organizer for Parent Revolution and DTPU, said Parent Revolution will be helping DTPU and LaVerne Prep through the transition.

“We are excited that we have gotten this far,” Flores said. “But this is where the real work begins.”

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