UPDATED: Palm Lane Parents Prevail Over Anaheim Elementary School District In Charter School Battle

Palm Lane team featThe California Court of Appeals issued a ruling today upholding a trial court ruling in favor of  group of poor and working class parents using the state Parent Trigger Law to convert Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim into an independent public charter school. The ruling presumably ends a three-year battle the parents had waged in the teeth of intense opposition from the school district’s leadership, governing board and unions.

“Today’s victory is an affirmation of the rights of parents to fight for a high quality educational opportunity for their children. It is an affirmation of the spirit and vision of the Legislature when we wrote and enacted this law. It is a tribute to the courage of the Palm Lane parents who had the strength to fight for their rights in a California court of law,” said former state Senator and Parent Trigger Law author Gloria Romero, who worked alongside the Palm Lane parents throughout.

The group, calling themselves the Padres de Palm Lane Elementary United, began gathering signatures for their Parent Trigger Law in the summer of 2014. They turned in the requisite number of signatures, representing at least half of Palm Lane students on January 14, 2015. For the next two years, the Anaheim Elementary School District forced the parents to ride a grueling, frustrating roller coaster of deception, obstruction and litigation in an attempt to stop Palm Lane’s conversion to charter school status.

At a meeting packed with school union members from across Orange County, the AESD Board of Education rejected the petition on February 19, 2015, saying the petition lacked sufficient valid signatures  Evidence that emerged during the district court trial made it clear the school district deliberately sandbagged the verification process. The district also claimed Palm Lane was not subject to the Parent Trigger Law, based on a tortured interpretation of a temporary technicality.

The District Court rejected all the AESD’s arguments, criticized its conduct as “unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and unfair” and ordered the district to allow the charter conversion process to proceed. Instead, the school district appealed the ruling to the California Court of Appeals, which heard the case on February 25 of this year – more than two years after the original Parent Trigger petition had been submitted.

By the end of the hearing, it was clear the three-judge panel was very skeptical of the school district’s arguments seriously and would rule in favor of the Palm Lane parents. The ruling issued today did exactly that, upholding the District Court’s ruling that the Anaheim Elementary School District must rescind its February 19, 2015 rejection of the Parent Trigger Petition and act to accept it, and allow the Palm Lane parents to immediately begin soliciting and selecting charter school proposals.

The California Court of Appeals opinion can be read here.

This is a huge win for this group of parents and the charter school movement over all. It is a big defeat for the Anaheim Elementary School District Board of Education, which actively sought to sabotage the petition process and then spent hundreds of thousands in district funds on a futile and mean-spirited lawsuit against the Palm Lane parents. Now they will also have to pay the legal costs the Palm Lane parents incurred fighting for their rights under state law.

UPDATE (April 29, 2017): The Lincoln Club of Orange County, which played a critical role in sustaining the Palm Lane parents in the face of AESD opposition and litigation, issued this statement:

“The Lincoln Club of Orange County is thrilled with the court ruling today, which finally allows the students of Palm Lane elementary to escape their failing school and convert it into a charter school. The Anaheim Elementary district should be ashamed of itself for suing these student’s parents, and spending nearly a  million of taxpayer  dollars   trying to fight them. Justice prevailed!”


  1. Will those a-wholes at AESDB take it to the CA Supremes now?

  2. Congrats to the Palm Lane Parents. Now act like you mean it and follow up with good decisions and support for the charter school folks who take on the task. Start reading to your kids, take them to the library, have them in bed early, do all the things that help kids learn and congrats on getting the charter school status. It is not only the school that helps your children learn.

  3. What a slanted biased written article. Where is fair reporting? I hope you go down in flames because you can change the school all you want but it doesn’t change the lazy gang banging parents that have kids there.

  4. Coco must be related to Moreno to attack Palm Lane families so viciously. These parents stood up to an abusive district board led by Moreno and staff who had all the resources in the world. Shame on the school district for using money that should have been in the classroom and suing parents who just want a better education for their kids. If the district hadn’t fired a beloved principle and would have worked with the parents this might have all been avoided. The district caused this – no one else!

  5. Jose Moreno cares deeply about the quality of public education. His volunteer work can be questioned, but certainly leadership is always questioned.

    This is not a story of a grassroots group of parents that fought the system. This the story of a jilted employee that stirred up a response to his firing.

    Sweet Gloria and those that want to break the union saw this as the perfect opportunity to make a huge investment to try to pull off a steal.

    Professional signature gatherers along some loyal to the fired principal were paid handsomely to get the required signatures. Evidence shows that most of the people who signed were lied to about it or just didn’t understand….too bad.

    Just to highlight the fact that this is an outside takeover attempt not a grassroots movement, who would have paid the lawyer fees if they lost?
    Thank you Lincoln Club. Thank you koch brothers

    • And thank you for reminding us that the public schools belong to the teachers unions! Those pesky parents need to remember to be quiet and do what the educracy tells them, right?

      • Where do come off with that?

        I will say that it’s a little ironic that Jose Moreno has been a catalyst for parental empowerment over the past 10 years.

        Nobody has done more to get parents at our schools than Dr. Moreno. So it is a little ironic that it backfired on him and public education in this case.

        Mathew, I never fail to be entertained by your phoney concern for the lives of the immigrant population. The reality is that you don’t care about them at all. You don’t care that the parent trigger has been an unmitigated failure everywhere it has been executed. You don’t care to visit our schools. You don’t care to help solve the problems of poverty. You don’t care about anything than promoting your agenda.

        • On what basis is my concern for immigrants “phony”? What evidence do you have that I “don’t care about them at all”? Anyone can toss out false and anonymous charges – as you are proving.

    • “This is not a story of a grassroots group of parents that fought the system. This the story of a jilted employee that stirred up a response to his firing.”

      Riiight. These parents out in the time and energy to gather signatures, do it in the face of district opposition and union intimidation tactics, then spent two years in litigation with the school district…because of a single school personnel issue?

      “Sweet Gloria and those that want to break the union saw this as the perfect opportunity to make a huge investment to try to pull off a steal.”

      Yeah. Converting a single elementary school in Anaheim to charter status is going to break the public school unions. Got it. That’s believable. You do know there’s no guarantee a Palm Lane charter school will be non-union? Are the public school unions so fragile they cannot withstand the establishment of non-union charter school (if that is what the Palm Lane parents choose)? It’s very difficult to avoid the implication that when it comes to public schools, the priorities of the unions come first in your mind.

  6. Once again Moreno’s supporters come out to distort the truth. These parents worked hard and won. Their school continues to perform badly. It only started to get slightly better when Moreno left the school board and took his boot off the neck of parents and faculty. These kids have the right to attend a thriving school like the GOALS Academy that Moreno supported for his district. Did that charter school break the union too? This is just more intimidation and defamation of parents who want a better life for their children.

    • Matt, I base my conclusion that you don’t care about the imigrant community in two things:
      1. You actions and lack of respect that you have shown over the years (I think you know what I am referring to)
      2. Your lack of action. I just don’t see you around at any community events where people like Jose have been way before running for school board.

      Thank you for pointing out that Jose and people like myself support community based charter schools. You made reference to GOALS academy. These people gained credibility when they hired Debbie Schroder who was a successful principal in the public school system. The parents that pushed for GOALS came from Anaheim and believed that they could provide a different experience than the traditional schools and I hope it succeeds.

      Let’s contrast GOALS with Gloria’s trigger disaster. If this goes through this will be another huge waste of taxpayer money, just as it has been in every other place she has pulled this off. The valiant parents that you refer to were paid for their work and never risked anything because had the courts sided against”them” Gloria and the out of town sponsors would have paid the bills.

      I have an idea for the next charter entrepreneur. How about if you recruit the 30 most troubled students from every campus and out a program together that helps reach these kids. As a teacher in a local school I know we are not doing a good job with these kids and they are in turn making it difficult to teach all the rest of the students.

      • Ok. You base your conclusion on a made-up controversy and my absence at unnamed community events that you have decided constitute the criteria of whether or not I care about immigrants. Since you refuse to put your name on your comment, we can accordingly conclude you don’t care about anything you’re saying here.

        Furthermore, your comparison between Palm Lane and GOALS is ridiculous. It cannot be made. Palm Lane is not a charter school yet. No one knows who the operator will be, what the curriculum will be, or anything else that would allow for a comparison to be made. Yet you have already decided it will be a disaster. Then you go on to insult and denigrate the parents. No wonder you lack the nerve to identify yourself.

  7. Somebody didn’t get the memo…….

    The goofy puppet that Cynthia and Greg use to prop up their legitimacy has been all over social media on this. Congratulating the Palm Lane parents and praising the court ruling.

    So it could be that Greg didn’t tell him that Jose was against this? Either way, he got it right.

    • ?????

      (“Goofy puppet”?)


      I haven’t been paying close attention to the lawsuit — but I’ll sure pay attention to anyone who wants to keep tabs on the doings at Palm Lane once the Charter opens.

  8. Cheli Ferreyra

    I’m very happy that we will have options other than staying in the Anaheim District. Unfortunately many of the residents have requested an interdistrict transfer and have been denied. I’m happy with having Goals and Now Palm lane as an option for public education. Congratulations to those parents!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar