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NATASHA LINDSTROM, SPECIAL TO THE DAILY PRESS
CELEBRATION: Parent Revolution organizer Alfonso Flores, left, and Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, center, celebrated with parents Tuesday night when the Adelanto school board voted to convert Desert Trails Elementary into a charter school.

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Desert Trails petition approved

School board OKs plan to give Adelanto school a fresh start

ADELANTO • Asleep in his mother's arms in the corner of the boardroom was 5-year-old Steven Muniz, who attends Desert Trails Elementary School with his three older brothers.

As the board hugged and celebrated with Desert Trails Parent Union, Parent Revolution and LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, his mother, Marta Muniz, held on tight to her sleeping son. Tonight, Marta is happy as her four sons will now get the education she feels every child deserves. Although she did not speak very good English, Muniz flashed a huge smile when asked about the charter academy coming to Desert Trails.

“I like it,” Muniz said in broken English. “I’ve always supported the Desert Trails parents. Always.”

The Adelanto School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of the Desert Trails Charter petition, promising a fresh start to the failing elementary school.

Desert Trails Elementary, 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.

DTPU held an election 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.

Although the board granted the charter petition, they wished to amend the agreement from a five-year contract down to three years.

La Verne Prep’s founder, Debbie Tarver, wiped away a tear as the board read the resolution and later praised her for showing them around the Hesperia school.

“I am so happy to say that after visiting LaVerne charter in Hesperia I was very impressed,” board member Christine Turner said. “I was impressed with every aspect of that school. I was impressed with the teaching, I was impressed with the engagement of every student and their parents, I was impressed with the administration and I could tell that you have passion for teaching, you have a passion for what you do and it shows. And I believe that you will continue with that same passion with the students at Desert Trails.”

Last year, LaVerne Prep boasted the highest API score for charter schools in the High Desert and the highest API score in the entire Hesperia Unified School District.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride to say the least,” said Ben Austin, founder of Parent Revolution. “There were times when this day seemed utterly unimaginable. Our north star on this journey has really been the kids — doing what’s right for them.” LaVerne Prep is set to be a fully-functioning charter school by the 2013-14 school year. “I’m lost for words,” said DTPU spokesman Jose Morales. “We are ready to start over.”

Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.

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