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Judge: District Must Allow School Conversion

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A San Bernardino County school district must immediately comply with a previous court order allowing a parents group to convert a failing elementary school into a charter, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday in a case is seen as an important test of California’s “parent trigger” law.

Judge John Vander Feer said the Adelanto Elementary School District must allow the Desert Trails Parent Union to select a charter operator to take over Desert Trails Elementary School, said Mark Holscher, the Los Angeles lawyer representing the parents free of charge.

“Judge Vander Feer made it clear that the court will not tolerate the district’s attempts to ignore court orders,” Holscher said.

The parents group returned to court Friday after the school board in August refused to abide by a previous court ruling that ordered the district to proceed with the parent’s petition calling for a charter operator to take over the school.

Instead, the board voted to form an advisory council to study reforms.

School board President Carlos Mendoza did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s ruling.

The parent union is scheduled to choose a charter operator to take over the school for the 2013-14 academic year on Thursday, said Doreen Diaz, lead organizer of the parent union.

“We are thrilled,” she said.

The parents union is using California’s so-called “parent trigger” law to force the school conversion. The law allows parents to force reforms at low-performing schools through a petition signed by a simple majority of the students’ guardians.

The law is opposed by teachers unions and administrators who see it as encroaching on their area of expertise.

The Adelanto case has generated interest across the country as the nation’s first successful parent trigger petition.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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