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February 28, 2013

Committee passes Parent Empowerment Act

NORMAN — The “Parent Empowerment Act,” has passed its first hurdle in the legislature.

The bipartisan bill, SB 1001, authored by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa, will give Oklahoma parents a new tool to accomplish change in a child’s under-performing school. The bill was approved 7-3 Monday by the Senate Education Committee.

The Parent Empowerment Act establishes an Oklahoma version of a concept often called a “parent trigger.” If a majority of parents in an under-performing school sign a petition, they may transition the school to a charter school or terminate the administrators. The option to terminate administrators is only available in Oklahoma or Tulsa counties.

An under-performing school is defined as a school that has received a “D” or an “F” for at least the last two years under Oklahoma’s new grading system, or a “D” or an “F” for two of the last three years, as long as the most recent grade was a “D” or an “F”. If the parents choose the charter school option, the charter school will first serve all students in the existing attendance boundaries of the school.

Parent triggers have been enacted in at least seven other states, notably California.

SB 1001 now advances for consideration by the full Senate.

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