Adelanto campus calm after ‘parent trigger’ petition rejected


A day after Mojave Desert school officials rejected a controversial effort by parents seeking major changes at their lowest-performing elementary school, the embattled campus finally appeared calm even as supporters vowed to continue the fight.

David Mobley, principal at Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto, said Thursday that the school was free from weeks of conflict between supporters and opponents of the petition to hand over management to a charter operator under the state’s landmark parent trigger law.

“It was nice to relax,” he said. “So much has been politics, and we need to get back to the business of education.”

But petition supporters reiterated their outrage and said they would challenge the school board action in court.

“They’re acting like they have no respect for our concerns,” said Teresa Rogers of the Desert Trails Parent Union, which launched the petition campaign last year with Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles educational nonprofit group. “We’re just asking for better education for our children.”

After an impassioned four-hour meeting, the board late Wednesday ruled that the petition failed to contain valid signatures from parents representing at least half of the school’s 642 students. Board President Carlos Mendoza said the petition fell short by 20 signatures, in part because 70 parents who initially signed revoked their support after saying they had been misled.

At a news conference Thursday, however, petition supporters renewed allegations that the recision process was riddled with fraud and that some of the documents turned in were falsified. They have asked the San Bernardino County district attorney to investigate.

Mark Holscher, an attorney representing petition supporters, said he would challenge the board decision on the grounds that it failed to comply with the parent trigger law, but he declined to elaborate.

The 2010 law allowed parents at low-performing schools to force changes in staff and curriculum, close the campus or convert to a charter school. Charters are public schools that are independently managed and mostly non-union.

Meanwhile, Mobley said work is progressing to improve Desert Trails, where more than half the students are not proficient in math or reading. The district and teachers union recently signed a pact to form a committee, with parent representation, to select a school improvement model and are researching 22.

Earlier this year, Desert Trails received $50,000 in federal funding to buy 110 classroom computers, and the staff is working on a new plan to make school rules more uniform and consistent, Mobley said.

“I’m excited about changes we’re making,” he said.