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Desert Trails still undecided
ADELANTO • Parents and students dressed in "I am the Revolution" T-shirts packed the large board room of the Adelanto School District offices Tuesday night in an attempt to persuade the trustees to honor their petition for LaVerne Preparatory Academy.
The school, which was deemed failing by the state, found itself at the center of the nation’s first successful effort to invoke the Parent Trigger law, allowing parents to gather signatures to force reform. But after the ASD Board of Trustees in March rejected the parent union’s initial petition, five parents filed a lawsuit against the district demanding they verify the petition and that the court recognize the educational rights of students at Desert Trails.
The Desert Trails Parent Union held an election back in October, in which parents who signed the petition could vote on which charter school they wanted to see take over Desert Trails. Only 53 of the original 466 parent petitioners voted, and amongst those who did, the vast majority voted in favor of LaVerne Prep, which is located in Hesperia.
Although La Verne Prep boasts the highest API score for charter schools in the High Desert and the highest API score in the entire Hesperia Unified School District, those who oppose the Parent Trigger law believe that that the charter is not a suitable fit for the district.
“We respectfully request that you give Desert Trails Preparatory Academy and Debbie Tarver the opportunity to succeed in Adelanto just like she’s done in Hesperia,” said Joe Morales, a lead organizer for the Desert Trails Parent Union at the public hearing.
LaNita Dominique, president of the Adelanto Teachers Association, said she hopes the trustees will keep the lines of communication open between the teachers and the parents, as she said that media reports often inform the teachers of issues before the district does.
Stephanie Engleman, assistant principal of LaVerne Prep, gave a detailed slideshow presentation to the board, addressing the specific needs of English-language learners and special education students.
“This is going to be an honest and upfront process,” said trustee Debra Jones to LaVerne Prep’s founder, Tarver.
Jones questioned Tarver about the petition, asking her an assortment of questions that centered around the controversial implementation of the school, which she says will be a parentchoice school.
Tarver discussed things that make LaVerne Prep a good choice — the students begin learning Latin in first grade, they call students “scholars” and explained that the school involves the parents heavily in the child’s education.
Tarver said the school will have three special education teachers and a special education coordinator to address Desert Trails’ high number of special needs children.
Currently the charter is waiting on the “articles of incorporation and bylaws” from the secretary of state to obtain a non-profit status.
“Parents in that school are going to expect a lot, they’ve been through a lot to get where they are at today, ” Jones said.
Tarver agreed with Jones and said she plans on hiring a principal to run the Hesperia location so she can devote 70 percent of her time to the new school.
The new Desert Trails Preparatory Academy anticipates 720 students in the attendance boundaries, and has taken out a $750,000 loan based on enrollment levels.
Tarver said she and the other staff and lawyers will be available to answer all questions. The board will vote on the charter on Jan. 8.
The board has decided to hold a special meeting to further discuss La Verne Preps charter petition; the date for this has yet to be determined.
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