Parent Trigger Laws: Powerful Tools or Empty Shells? An Examination of the New Laws that Put Power Into Parents’ Hands

Spring 2014Articles Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy Vol. 11, Issue 4


What if parents had the power to gain control of a public school and force it to change or even close? In 2010, the nation’s first “Parent Trigger” law was passed in California, which did just this. Now the law in seven states (California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas) and being considered in 25 others, Parent Trigger laws allow parents to step in and reform or even completely transform their child’s failing public school if fifty-one percent of other parents sign a petition in support of change. When parents in these low-performing schools collect enough signatures, they can force a number of actions including converting the school to a charter school (by handing control over to a private company or management group), replacing principals or teachers, changing the budget or shutting down the school entirely.

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