The Palm Lane Elementary School parents have won another court victory over the Anaheim Elementary School District’s legal battle to stop the school’s conversion to charter status: today the California Supreme Court denied the school district’s petition for review of its appellate court defeat.
Former state Senator and school choice reformer Gloria Romero, who has been fighting alongside these parents from the beginning, has this to say to OC Daily:
“With one word–“Denied”–the CA Supreme Court denied further obstruction by the Anaheim School District and stood up for the rights of Palm Lane parents using the Parent Trigger law to transform their school. It was a powerful affirmation of the rights of parents to reform schools that fail to deliver. I am so proud of these courageous parents; so thankful to the Supreme Court who underscored that education is the key to the American Dream and that the law matters!”
Since 2015, the Anaheim Elementary School District has been fighting an attempt by a group of primarily immigrant, working class Palm Lane school parents to convert their school in an independent charter school. The parents utilized the provisions of the state Parent Trigger Law by getting more than half the parents and guardians of Palm Lane students to sign a petition requesting conversion to charter school status. The y submitted the petition at the beginning of 2015.
The school district responded by sandbagging the signature verification process. The school board voted in February 2015 to rejecting the charter conversion petition in their own version of a kangaroo court. The parents sued and Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks ruled in July 2015 the petition had enough signatures and condemned the district‘s conduct of the petition process as “unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”
Undeterred, the progressive, union-dominated AESD school board voted to appeal the ruling to the state Court of Appeals. While the appellate court ruled decisively in favor of the parents in late April 2017, the district succeeded in delaying the charter conversion for two years. During those two years, the children of a number of the parents who signed the petition had already moved on the middle school.
Despite an emphatic appellate court defeat that birthed no hope of reversal on appeal, in May the AESD Board of Education voted to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
It’s abundantly clear the Anaheim Elementary School District leadership is waging a war of attrition against the Palm Lane parents in hopes of just grinding them down. Furthermore, the district is funding this war with taxpayer dollars – spending about a million dollars on litigation which school board members knew they were going to lose.
The district’s senior leadership even went to the creepy length of crashing a private meeting of the Palm Lane parents group held in the middle of a school day.
A few weeks ago, a source overheard Jackie Filbeck, a member of the AESD Board of Education, telling someone that the district knew the appeal to the California Supreme Court would fail, but that they “had” to do it.
What a flagrant, arrogant and conscious abuse of public funds and public trust – to knowingly waste taxpayer money on doomed litigation against a group of constituents to further an ideological hostility to charter schools.
The question now is whether Filbeck, teacher unionist Ryan Ruelas, identity politics activist Jose Paolo Magcalas and the rest of their board colleagues need to decided if they will continue to abuse taxpayer resources in this misguided war against the Palm Lane parents, or if they will do the right thing and cooperate in converting Palm Lane into a charter school – as the law requires them. In other words, will they continue to put their personal politics ahead of the interests of parents and the law?