Colorado is Pulling the Trigger on Failing Schools


A group of 14 Republican lawmakers Monday introduced House Bill 11-1270, the parent trigger bill that has been rumored for weeks.

Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield

Prime sponsors are Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield and vice chair of the House Education Committee, and Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial and ranking Republican on Senate Eduation.

Under the terms of the bill, more than 50 percent of families at a low-performing school could petition a school board to close the school or convert it to a charter or innovation school. A school board could accept the petition, propose another alternative or, in limited cases, reject the petition. Parents could appeal to the State Board of Education, which would have the final say. A combined parent-district committee would have oversight of a school conversion.

Schools subject to such petitions would be those that have been required by the state to adopt a priority improvement plan for the second year in a row or that are required to adopt a turnaround plan.

Some 82 schools have been identified by the new state accountability system as needing turnaround plans.

A school board could reject a petition for financial reasons, if there is a lack of alternative management operations or lack of other schools into which students from a closed school could be placed.

The bill also sets specific deadlines for responses to petitions, board decisions, appeals and school closure or conversion.

Education interest groups Monday were still weighing their responses. Representatives of the Department of Education, Colorado Association of Schools Boards, Colorado Education Association and Colorado Association of School Executives all told Education News Colorado they were reviewing the bill.

The bill’s prospects may be dicey, given Democratic control of the Senate. Two other bills, both sponsored by Democrats, propose greater parent involvement in school turnaround decisions, including mandatory notification of parents and public meetings. Both of those bills also have uncertain prospects.

The trigger concept got started with a California law that now has been held up by that state’s board of education.

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