House passes parent trigger bill. It now goes to the state Senate.

Georgia’s version of a parent trigger bill passed the House last night. It must now win Senate approval.

House Bill 123, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act, allows for petitions by parents or teachers to convert their school to a charter school or adopt another turnaround model. The bill requires the local school board approve the petition and calls on the state Board of Education to act as a referee when there are disputes between petitioners and local boards.

A petition may be submitted by a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff members. The bill allows parents at any school — even a high performing one — to petition for their school to become a charter school,  stating  “…a petition may be submitted to convert any local school to a charter school.”

But the bill largely speaks to low performing schools. Parents at schools designated low performing can petition to:

(1) Remove school personnel, including the principal and personnel whose performance has continued not to produce student achievement gains;

(2) Institute the complete reconstitution of the school, removing all personnel, appointing a new principal, and hiring all new staff. Existing staff may reapply for employment at the newly reconstituted school but shall not be rehired if their performance regarding student achievement has been negative for the previous three years;

(3) Permit the parents to have the option to relocate their student to other public schools in the local school system to be chosen by the parents of the student from a list of available options provided by the local school system, if another such school exists. The local school system shall provide transportation for students in Title I schools in accordance with the requirements of federal law. The local school system may provide transportation for students in non-Title I schools. In any year in which the General Assembly does not appropriate funds for the provision of transportation to non-Title students, the parent or guardian shall assume responsibility for the transportation of that student;

(4) Employ a monitor, master, or management team in the school that shall be paid the school system.

5) Prepare and implement an intensive student achievement improvement plan; or

(6) Require a complete restructuring of the school’s governance arrangement and internal organization of the school.

The law states that the local school ” shall approve a petition” unless it finds “that implementing the turnaround model or models is logistically impossible; would be illegal under employment or other applicable law; fails to comply with the provisions of this title; does not promote school governance; violates the provisions of a local charter school’s charter or is not in the public interest. The local board may deny such petition by majority vote unless the petitioning group is composed of more than 60 percent of either parents or guardians or faculty and instructional staff members In such case, the local board may deny a petition only by a two-thirds’ or greater vote.

If a local board denies a petition, such board shall, at the time of denial, specifically state the reasons for the denial and provide a written statement of the denial to the petitioning group and the state board; provided, however, that a denial of a petition shall not preclude the petitioning group from submitting a revised petition that addresses the reasons cited for the denial in the written statement.

One of the first responses to the House passage comes from Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, which is a proponent of parent trigger laws:

StudentsFirst and our 70,000 members in Georgia applaud the Georgia House of Representatives for passing HB 123,” said StudentsFirst’s Georgia State Director Bradford Swann Tuesday night. “This bill, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act, empowers parents by allowing for a majority of parents to sign a petition to transform their child’s low-achieving public school.”

“Thanks to this bipartisan effort, parents with a child stuck in a low-performing school are one step closer to having the necessary leverage to demand change and hold schools accountable for the needs of their students,” said Swann. “The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Lindsey, and supporters sent a strong message that every child in Georgia, regardless of their background, zip code or socio-economic circumstances deserves access to a high-quality education. These courageous members of the House of Representatives should be applauded for their efforts.”

HB 123, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act, passed the Georgia House of Representatives tonight with a bipartisan vote. It will now move to the Georgia Senate for further consideration.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

24 comments Add your comment

Google "NEA" and "union"

March 6th, 2013
9:09 am

Excellent news. Note, please, that it took a Republican controlled legislature to finally respond to inner-city parents — and to take action providing another authentic remedy to failing public schools.

Below you’ll find all the tired old union rants against reform and parental choice.


March 6th, 2013
9:10 am

I thought parents had a trigger called the ballot box…

living in an outdated ed system

March 6th, 2013
9:15 am

As I have written on my own blog, I support the concept of “parent trigger,” but I believe this bill was poorly written and “rushed” out by the state assembly. Its definition of “low performing school” is way too broad (e.g.. do you realize how many school systems in Georgia had a graduation rate under 65%?) and what is the point of a parent petition if the local school board can deny it in many circumstances? And finally, the amendments around public charter management organizations was NOT the problem – that just catered to the teachers organizations who falsely claim the bill would increase the “privatization” of education. That’s not what should have been addressed.

I think in reality, this bill will be VERY difficult to implement and we may not see it used much, if at all.

Michelle Rhee can say what she wants – it’s a poorly written bill and will only result in a photo op. I would be curious whether DFER would have supported such a bill.

bootney farnsworth

March 6th, 2013
9:19 am

beware what you wish for – this could easily go Prop 13

J Throckmorton Malcontent

March 6th, 2013
9:31 am

Well…let a hundred flowers bloom, and a hundred schools of thought contend.

Truth in Moderation

March 6th, 2013
9:33 am

The time is NOW to overturn the compulsory education law. This is a NWO takeover of the “public” school system and its CAPITAL INVESTMENTS. If the law is overturned, AT LEAST THE CITIZENS WILL BENEFIT FROM THE SALE OF THE PROPERTY, BUILDINGS, FURNITURE, BOOKS ETC. Citizens would then have money for GOOD PRIVATE SCHOOLS or HOME SCHOOLS. Good teachers would be hired. The corruptocrats WOULD BE OUT OF A JOB!

Now, if this “trigger law” is railroaded through, PARENTS AND SCHOOL BOARDS WILL HAVE NO LOCAL CONTROL WHATSOEVER. These for-profit charters CAN BANKRUPT YOUR COUNTY, and you have no power to stop it! YOU WILL HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHAT IS TAUGHT OR THE QUALITY OF YOUR SCHOOL. It is the OPPOSITE of what you think you are getting! The CHARTER SCHOOL takeover was planned YEARS AGO. Charlotte Iserbyt documents this in her book of government documents, THE DELIBERATE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA.
ht tp://
Check out pages 290, 317, 336, 352, 362-363, 448, 424, 422-423, 424

sneak peak into education

March 6th, 2013
9:39 am

What a victory this will be if and when it passes through the senate…a victory for private businesses interested in making a ton of money off the backs of our students. Please Georgians, wake up. It has been shown over and over again that charter schools do NOT, in almost every circumstance, provide better educational results for their students, and in many cases the education offered is far worse. This does not give parents any power; it’s a thinly disguised veil that will appear to give parents the power to take over a school but all they will be doing, ultimately, is putting the power (and tax-payer money) into the hands of private industry. The only people who are going to gain in this is are the friends (and donors) of our elected officials who have put enough money into their coffers to deserve a little kick-back. Also, remember that this policy is one of gems supported by by the right-wing, let’s privatize everything within our education system, group ALEC. And isn’t the esteemed member of our legislature Mr. Lindsey a member of this group?

Parent Trigger was first pushed in California by Parents Revolution, a group funded by Gates, Broad, and the Walton Foundations – a group of billionaires who have openly shown their disdain for public education and funded huge campaigns to oust anyone who supports public education from local office.

To find out more about the real story behind Parent Trigger and not the lad-de-dah fairy tale that you are being sold by those under the gold dome please read the following link. After you have read it, write to your state senator and implore them to vote no.

CJae of EAV

March 6th, 2013
9:43 am

I believe this is a bad bill that’s not necessary when taken in context to the existing laws on the books, which in and of themselves have yet to be fully actualized.

It’s trojan horse, simular the bill passed 2 years ago that give the Gov the ability to remove local board members to be replaced by gubernatorial appointments.

Mountain Man

March 6th, 2013
10:00 am

And the chaos in Dekalb county will speed this bill along to passage. Maybe it would have passed before, but Dekalb makes it a certainty. Everyone say thanks to Dekalb county.

Mountain Man

March 6th, 2013
10:47 am

“I thought parents had a trigger called the ballot box…”

Look no further than Dekalb county and you will see that is not true.

Captain Kirk

March 6th, 2013
11:06 am

Let’s go to the studio and check in with the Peach State Scoreboard.

Parents, Taxpayers, reformers 2
Educrats, Unions, Cartel 0

(Keith Jackson Voice) “And we have got ourselves a DAN-dee”!!!!

Private Citizen

March 6th, 2013
11:16 am

This whole concept seems abstract to me. Parents are to petition the state? And then who picks the charter school provider? And then to they appropriate a school building from the county where the petition is?

The concept of “majority or teachers” signing a petition seems completely crazy and out a fiction book. If there was movement like this within a school, the district management would send war knights, with jousting sticks, on horses to quell the mutiny, and be thorough and quick about it. It just seems like a fantasy, as I am guessing there in no model of this happening anywhere ever, as far as teachers petitioning for such, petitioning to subvert their district employer.


March 6th, 2013
11:20 am

Captain Kirk, you forgot the most important group on the scoreboard. The students! Eventually you’ll see that they go are also among the losers. It may take you awhile, but then you were never as smart as Picard.


March 6th, 2013
11:41 am

@Maureen, two questions about the bill. What constitutes a majority of parents? Is it a percentage of the entire student population or the loudest parents? Also does the charter school break away from the public school system that is it in or does it continue to be apart of the system?

Captain Kirk

March 6th, 2013
11:54 am

“Captain Kirk, you forgot the most important group on the scoreboard. The students! Eventually you’ll see that they go are also among the losers. It may take you awhile, but then you were never as smart as Picard.”

Captains Log – Stardate 2013-3-6

I’m trapped on a planet with a race of backward, arrogant autocrats that practice an …Archaic religion.This…Religion… posits that throwing more money at a system designed before the American Civil War is relevant to the present century. A subset of …”masters” with giant heads swollen from years of unbridled power attempt to control them with threats and intimidation. My crew has attempted small reforms to take power away from these evil masters…But superstition and…fear…have turned the bureaucracy against me. And my toupee is becoming obvious…

Kirk out


March 6th, 2013
11:55 am

@Captain Kirk-

Two thumbs up! LOL!

Slo Pony Dog Food Company

March 6th, 2013
12:06 pm

“I thought parents had a trigger called the ballot box…”

Yes, they do. They elected the courageous legislators that passed this important reform.You would think that teachers would be in favor of this. If there are as many martinets out there acting as principals,this could be a very effective way to keep them from runaway abuses of power.I read on this blog every day how principals and other unfit-for-command types abuse teachers just because they can.Although it’s not the focus of the bill,it could be the check needed for failing schools that have a dictator principal.

Private Citizen

March 6th, 2013
1:02 pm

martinets out there acting as principals

The principals tend to get their mode / orders / agenda from the central office, even if it goes against how the principal would like the run the school. Principals probably have the highest degree of worker instability I have seen anywhere. They can be gone in a flash and / or moved around between school thereby destabilising any influence or good works they have and demoralising them in the process. Reference what “central office” Mr. APS Davis ($240k + benefits… greater salary than the governor, or a U. S. senator, or the Director of a federal agency) reference what he recently did to a principal and the method used: pure abruptness. I do not know what is remedy for the work situations of principals, but good ones are in a bad way in a corrupted district.

Private Citizen

March 6th, 2013
1:04 pm

No one has yet to comment on how school district management are paid greater salary than the state and federal professional pay scales at the top levels.

living in an outdated ed system

March 6th, 2013
1:07 pm

And again, let me say that despite my reservations with the bill, the Georgia Democratic Party continues to be the party of “no.” Almost the entire caucus opposed it, with the exception of a few courageous souls who also supported the charter amendment (e.g., Morgan, Kaiser). The one-sidedness in Georgia politics is getting old.

concerned citizen

March 6th, 2013
3:12 pm

HR in DeKalb has quietly closed all teaching positions as of March 1. Only subs will be hired and there are about twenty positions. Who is in charge of HR, if anybody? There are plenty of fully certified teachers and retired certified teachers willing to teach in these positions. WHY are they not being allowed to? Who will answer for this? Is this Ramona’s or Howe’s decision? Did HR make their own decision? When schools are not staffed by fully certified teachers, there should be hell to pay. If teahers are available and are applying, they certainly should be hired. We still have most of March, April, and May to go in the school year. Again, the students come last. “Let a sub handle the classes – it’s cheaper.” What about the students? What about the teachers willing to help? (Always) What about our parents who don’t even know if their childrens’ schools are fully and correctly staffed, OR NOT. HR, step forward and explain why our children and parents are not being respected.


March 6th, 2013
3:25 pm

The entire community has a stake in public schools. We invest our dollars and risk our property values. Why can a group of teachers or parents make a potentially drastic decision about a school that is funded by the entire community?

Slo Pony Dog Food Company

March 6th, 2013
4:58 pm

” Why can a group of teachers or parents make a potentially drastic decision about a school that is funded by the entire community?”

Because it’s failing the entire community.The time for excuses is over. The school systems won’t clean their own house, so now it’ll be cleaned for them (under a lot less pleasant circumstances).

Shout out to 10:10- Your comments and observations are usually spot on.I hope you will continue when this blog moves over to the different commenting system. Keep up the good work.


March 6th, 2013
7:16 pm

I was going to Google “NEA” and “Union”, then I remembered Georgia is a “right to work” state and has been for a long time.