3 On Your Side: Parent-Trigger Schools - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side: Parent-Trigger Schools

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HINDS COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Our Mississippi schools are doing better but they're still consistently rated among the worst in the country.

Parents haven't been able to do much about it until now.

Beginning next year, schools might be eligible to become a Parent-Trigger School.

A Parent-Trigger School is a charter school in which the parents create the charter and hire the principal.

As people saw by the opening day this year of Lake Charles Charter School in Louisiana, they look just like public schools because they are public schools and still receive public school funding.

Next year in Mississippi 82 schools might be eligible for the Parent-Trigger Charter conversion.

In the tri-county area the Canton School for Arts and Sciences is on the list.

In Jackson, Provine High School as well as Lee, Wilkins, Woodville Heights and North Jackson Elementary schools.

They're all in the "Low performing" category.

Whitten Middle School was also in that category last year.

Whitten was in the "At Risk of Failing" category.

This year it's in the lowest category, "Failing".

One of Jaunine Nelson's three children will attend Whitten next year.

She's unhappy with the school's performance but she's hesitant to throw her support behind a charter school.

"Within a charter school, they turn around and pick certain kids from certain areas, or GPA's, or state tests, to go to this particular school," Nelson said.

Representative Cecil Brown, (D) Jackson, who drafted the charter school legislation last year says that's a misconception.

A charter school in Mississippi would open with the same students just a different staff.

"Let's just go to the school that's failing and get rid of the people that are making it fail, the adults," Rep. Brown said. "The kids don't make schools fail. "Let's bring in new adults, new teachers, new curriculum, let's take over our school. You gotta remember, 150 years ago, that's the way things operated. We didn't have state school boards."

There is no guarantee it will work.

In August, a charter school in New Orleans had its license revoked over allegations of sex and rape among the students.

And charter schools are difficult to start.

This year, 22 charter school applications in Memphis were turned down.

Rep. Brown says a charter conversion would take strong dedication from a majority of the school's parents.

"It's gonna cost some money for parents to get together, draft a charter," Rep. Brown said. "They have to have somebody professional to do that. So I don't expect 80-85 parent trigger schools. I'd be very surprised if that happens. But I would expect 2-3. There's also a provision, if the school doesn't do any better, it goes back to being a regular school."

Under separate legislation titled "New Start Schools" Mississippi schools that are labeled "Failing" for two years in a row will receive written notice that all staff members will be fired if the school receives one more failing classification.

Canton High School is also "Failing" but the school has two more years before it will be up for charter conversion.

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