Parent Trigger Law

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

With recent arguments for and against charter schools in Mississippi, something that never really became a part of the debate was the state's current law. It's known as the parent trigger law, giving parents the chance to pull the trigger on a consistently failing school and take it over.

"It would operate just like a charter school, it would just be started by the parents, taken over by the parents as opposed to some third party organization," Representative Cecil Brown of Jackson says.

That law passed the legislature a few years ago and Representative Brown says it's an important tool for parents. Before it can happen, a school must be in one of the lowest three performing categories for at least three years in a row. Dozens of mississippi schools already qualify.

"This is just the end of the third year this year, so we won't actually have the opportunity to have parent trigger schools until next year," Brown points out.

And they may not happen at all. When the battle over charter schools was being debated at the state capitol earlier this year, Brown says that charter legislation would have repealed the parent trigger law, taking that right away from the parents.

"I think that it was probably an oversight," he says. "I think that the people who drafted the proposed charter law looked at his law and said well we won't need that anymore because we'll have this other law."

Brown is in favor of charter legislation but at the same time says the parent trigger law needs to stay in place. Brown says the Department of Education has already gotten inquires from parental and community groups ready to start the take over process.

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