What is "Parent Empowerment?"
Parent Empowerment is the name given to California Education Code (EC) sections 53300-53303 . It provides a parent or guardian of pupils who are, or will be, enrolled in a low-achieving school that meets certain eligibility requirements the option to petition the local educational agency (LEA) to implement reform in the school.
- What schools are eligible for Parent Empowerment?
A school eligible for Parent Empowerment under EC sections 53300-53303 is identified by the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) as a school that:
- Is not one of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 persistently lowest-achieving schools identified by the State Board of Education (SBE)
- Has been in corrective action for at least one full academic year
- Has failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP)
- Has an Academic Performance Index (API) score of less than 800.
- Are LEAs or schools required to share Parent Empowerment information with the populations they serve?
LEAs must provide parents and guardians of all pupils enrolled in a school in Program Improvement Year 4 or later with notice that the school may be eligible for Parent Empowerment. In addition, Parent Empowerment regulations allow for, but do not require, LEAs to identify a Web site at which the LEA may list the schools in the district subject to the provisions of Parent Empowerment statutes and to inform parents how they may sign a petition requesting the school district to implement one or more interventions to improve the school.
- What are the reforms that a Parent Empowerment petition might implement?
The options for reform referred to in EC Section 53300 include, and are limited to:
- What information needs to be on a Parent Empowerment petition?
Complete information on the content of a Parent Empowerment Petition as outlined in California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) Section 4802 can be found under Contents of a Parent Empowerment Petition. Briefly stated, a Parent Empowerment petition must include a heading and statement of intent, the name and contact information of the person to be contacted with regards to the petition, an identification and description of the requested intervention(s), the name of the subject school, signature boxes as described in 5 CCR Section 4802, and an affirmation that the signing parent or legal guardian is requesting the LEA to implement the identified intervention at the Subject School.
A request to an LEA to implement the restart model may also request that the Subject School be reopened under a specific charter school operator, charter management organization (CMO) or education management organization (EMO). If so, that information must be clearly stated on the front page of the petition including contact information of the charter school operator, CMO or EMO.
Additionally the names of any agencies or organizations that are supporting the petition, either through direct financial assistance or in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer support, must be prominently displayed on the front page of the petition.
- Who is eligible to sign a Parent Empowerment petition?
Section 4801(a) of 5 CCR states that signatures on a petition must be of parents or legal guardians holding the right to make educational decisions for pupils attending the Subject School or must be a combination of signatures of parents and legal guardians holding the right to make educational decisions for pupils attending the subject school and signatures of parents or legal guardians holding the right to make educational decisions for the pupil attending the matriculating schools. "Parents or Legal Guardians" include other persons with the right to make educated decisions for a pupil when the petition is signed, which may include foster parents.
A petition may be signed by a parent or a legal guardian only once for each of his or her pupils attending the Subject School, or once for each of his or her pupils attending the Subject School and the elementary or middle schools that normally matriculate into the subject elementary, middle or high school.
Section 4801(e) of 5 CCR stipulates that only one parent or legal guardian per pupil may sign a petition.
- Is a petitioner allowed to withdraw his/her signature from a Parent Empowerment petition?
Nothing in the regulations precludes a parent/guardian from withdrawing his/her signature from a petition. Diaz, et al. v. Adelanto School District, CIVVS 1201650 (Cal. Super. 2012) held in ruling on a challenge before it that a petition signer may only withdraw his or her signature from a petition before the petition is submitted to the district.
- What percentage of parent/guardian signatures is required on a petition to be successful?
EC Section 53300 specifically refers to requiring the signatures of "a combination of at least one-half of the parents or legal guardians" at the subject school and any matriculating school(s). As set forth in 5 CCR Section 4802.1(e), there is no specified ratio required of signatures gathered at each school, rather, the total ratio of signatures gathered must meet the one-half requirement. The LEA of the subject school will provide enrollment and matriculation data as per 5 CCR Section 4802.1(a), including the number of signatures that would be required for a successful Parent Empowerment petition.
- How much time does an LEA have to issue a final disposition on the petition?
If the LEA does not return the petition, the LEA will have 45 calendar days from the date the petition is received to reach a final disposition unless the parties agree to an extension of time. The LEA may return the petition to the person(s) designated as the lead petitioner(s) within 40 calendar days of receiving the petition if the LEA determines that (1) one half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils meeting the requirements have not signed the petition; or (2) that the school named in the petition is not a Subject School; or (3) that the petition does not meet the requirements specified in the regulations.
- Who is the "lead petitioner" and what do they do?
When the petition is submitted to the LEA, the petitioners must also submit a separate document, as noted in 5 CCR Section 4802.05(c), that identifies at least one, but no more than five, lead petitioners with their contact information. The role of lead petitioner(s) is to assist and facilitate communication between the parents who have signed the petition and the LEA. Further, 5 CCR Section 4802.05(d) stipulates that the lead petitioner contact(s) are not authorized to make decisions for the petitioners or negotiate on behalf of the parents.
- If a petition is returned for one of the reasons listed can it be resubmitted?
If a petition is returned due to insufficient or unverifiable signatures, the same petition may be resubmitted to the LEA with verified signatures as long as no substantive changes are made to the petition, as provided in 5 CCR Section 4802.1(j). The petitioners are provided one resubmission opportunity which must be completed within 60 calendar days after the return of the petition.
- What is a "final disposition?"
"Final disposition," as described in 5 CCR Section 4800.1(c), means the action taken by the LEA to implement the requested intervention option presented by a petition or to implement one of the other intervention options if they cannot implement the requested intervention.
- If a Parent Empowerment petition is submitted to an LEA and is not rejected, when will the intervention be implemented?
The Parent Empowerment statute (EC Section 53300 ) states that the selected model will be implemented in the subsequent year.
- If the petitioners disagree with the final disposition of the LEA do they have the right to appeal the decision?
No. Nothing in the Parent Empowerment statutes states there is an appeal process if a requested intervention model is not implemented.
- When is a school no longer eligible for parent empowerment?
A school is subject to a parent empowerment petition so long as it meets the definition of 5 CCR Section 4800.1. The only exception to this rule is provided for in 5 CCR Section 4802.1(c) which provides that if on the date a petition is submitted, a school is identified pursuant to 5 CCR Section 4800.1(k) as a subject school, it shall remain a subject school until final disposition of the petition by the LEA, even if it thereafter ceases to meet the definition, unless during that time the school has exited federal Program Improvement and is at or over 800 on the API.
- What is an "Alternative Governance Arrangement?"
Alternative governance is a model in which an LEA institutes any other major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement that makes fundamental reforms, such as significant changes in the school's staffing and governance, to improve student academic achievement in the school and that has substantial promise of enabling the school to make AYP.
- What schools are identified as "Persistently lowest-achieving schools?"
Under the Parent Empowerment Act, eligible schools much meet four criteria. The first criterion states that an eligible school must be: (1) a school that is not one of the persistently lowest-achieving schools identified by the SBE. This refers to the list of Tier I and II persistently lowest-achieving schools eligible for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) that was identified and approved by the SBE. Schools that were identified on the persistently lowest-achieving list were eligible for SIG funds and have already implemented one of the four reform models (transformation, turnaround, restart, and school closure) identified under the ESEA.
- Can I develop my own petition?
The sample petition can be used by interested petitioners. The sample petition shall be available in English and other languages pursuant to EC Section 48985 . Petitioners shall not be required to use the sample petition, but an alternate petition shall contain all components required by law.