Parent Trigger regulations finalized - finally

After nearly a year marked by bureaucratic delays, threats of legal challenges and the cries of passionate parents- it appears the California State Board of Education is finished drafting regulations governing the state's landmark Parent Empowerment Act.

According to the board agenda for the September meeting, the 15-day comment period on the revised trigger regulations passed without substantive comments - meaning the board can quickly pass the package at the upcoming hearing next and move the paperwork to the Office of Administrative Law for ratification.

All players in this long and often-contentious saga appear to be relieved.

"The Parent Revolution was very excited to see that no substantive changes were necessary," said Linda Serrato, a spokeswoman for Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based advocacy group that spearheaded the original law.

"For everyone involved, it's going to make it a much more streamlined effort in defining what is expected of parents and school staff," she said, adding that the group still intends to bus parents into next month's meeting to impress the board members on the importance of passing the regulations.

Camille Esch, a spokeswoman for the state board, said board members are glad to have clearly defined a process for implementing the law and look forward to tackling other matters.

"The state board will move on to the rest of the business at hand, of which there is plenty," she said.

In a related development, AB 203, which further clarifies provisions in the so-called Parent Empowerment Act, passed out of a key fiscal committee last week and is headed to Senate floor.

Parent Revolution, who once decried the legislation as an attempt by lawmakers to dilute the intent of the law and strip parents of power, reached consensus with author Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, and are no longer opposed to the measure.

The provisions in the final state board regulations create a timetable for the petitioning process and also process for verifying questionable signatures.

The parent trigger law was created last year during the state's unsuccessful effort to win a Race to the Top competitive federal grant. The law allows parents to transform failing schools through a petitioning process through a number of different models that include replacing personnel or converting the school into a charter.

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