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Palm Lane Elementary, Anaheim, Calif.

Parents win legal fight to have elementary in Anaheim, Calif., become a charter school

Parents at Palm Lane Elementary can move forward with plans to overhaul school governance.

Parents at an Anaheim, Calif., elementary school have won a legal battle to have the school converted to a charter campus.

The Orange County Register reports that the California Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from the Anaheim Elementary District, which opposed parents' efforts to have Palm Lane Elementary become a charter school.

“We never thought this fight would be so big and so difficult,” says Cecilia Ochoa, mother of two Palm Lane students and the lead petitioner in the case.

Under a 2010 law, the California Parent Empowerment Act, parents at low-performing schools can trigger a switch to a charter system.

Two years ago, Ochoa and other Palm Lane parents collected signatures and pressed to take over the elementary school, which for years had low test scores.

The Anaheim district sued to stop the conversion; it argued that there weren’t enough valid signatures on the petition. In 2015, Orange County Judge Andrew Banks ruled in favor of the parents.

In an appeal of the ruling the district argued that Palm Lane was not subject to the parent trigger law because the previous evaluations used to measure schools’ academic performance are no longer in use.The appellate court in April affirmed the lower court’ decision.

The Anaheim district, which had already spent close to $780,000 on legal fees, agreed to spend another $30,000 for an appeal before the California Supreme Court.

Families at Palm Lane Elementary can now move forward to convert their school into a public charter, independently run from the Anaheim Elementary School District.

Charter supporters say the court action comes too late to carry out a change in 2017-18. Parents plan to meet soon to send out requests for proposals from charter school companies.

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