Ga. 'Parent Trigger Law' could give parents more power over schools

By: Karen Edwards Email
By: Karen Edwards Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, March 7, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Georgia parents may be getting a lot more control over when it comes to their children's schools.

The state's House Bill 123, also called a "Parent Trigger Law," has passed in the House and now needs Senate approval.

"The [school] board does not take parents/complaints as seriously as they should take them," said Monique Braswell, Richmond County PTA president.

If the bill passes, it will give some parents a lot more control over their child's schooling.

"If it is identified by the state as a low-performing school, then the parents are allowed to bring a petition to the board to either turn it into a charter school or a turnaround model," explained Dr. Carol Rountree, the Richmond County assistant for Student Services.

And that would give parents the power to petition, which could lead to replacing the principal, screening the teachers and rehiring no more than half of them.

"The parent trigger law -- as a PTA representative, I know that this law is actually designed to bankrupt our public school system," Braswell said.

As PTA president, Braswell is against the law. But as a parent, she says parental issues aren't being heard.

"This is why this law has come into effect, because parents have major concerns that are not being addressed," she said.

Dr. Rountree says the board agrees this might not be the most cost-effective way to bring about change.

"Our concern has to do with the amount of support that would be available once the school is created," Rountree said.

She also says parents are already being heard.

"We absolutely have a way for our local citizens, parents, teachers to register their concern about how a school is performing," she explained.

But Braswell disagrees.

"The board already had the power to hear parents out who have major concerns at their schools, and they don't do it now," Braswell said. "So what makes anyone think that they're going to be so willing to do it with this law?"

The bill forces the board to consider these petitions. If 60 percent of parents or teachers and staff petition, then it can only be turned down the school board with a two-thirds vote.

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