For two years, a large number of Palm Lane Elementary School parents have had to fight the Anaheim Elementary School District tooth and nail simply to exercise their rights under state law. A Parent Trigger Law petition to convert Palm Lane into an independent public charter school. The petition had valid signatures from more than half the parents at the school. Under state law, the district should have allowed them to proceed. Instead, the district has been battling the parents in court – and losing badly while wasting nearly a million dollars paying for lawyers.
Again, these parents are simply exercising their rights under state law, and their elected school board has been fighting them every step of the way.
Councilwoman Kris Murray had agendized a request for the council to recognize these brave parents.
Councilman Jose Moreno pulled it from the consent calendar. He said AESD Board of Education Jackie Filbeck asked him to do so, stating the pretext that the matter is “in litigation.” He tried to spin the school district as the victim because the parents had sued the district. That’s factual but not really truthful: the parents were forced to sue to protect their statutory rights in the face of capricious, hostile and underhanded district efforts to deny those rights. The OC Superior Court sided emphatically with the parents; the only reason this matter is still in litigation is the arrogant determination of the district leadership to preserve its power and control at all costs.
Moreno implied the Palm Lane parents are dupes or puppets, alluding to “unknown interests” supporting their lawsuit.
Interestingly, Moreno had no problem with outside interests when the ACLU and Northern California attorney Robert Rubin represented him in his CVRA lawsuit against Anaheim. And didn’t bother Moreno that out-of-town special interests poured approximately $2 million into shifting Anaheim to by-district council elections – a political initiative Moreno helped lead and which led to his council election? Or is that alright because his election “serves the people” while a poor and working class parents trying to convert their school in a charter serves the sinister interests of “corporate profits”?
Moreno’s actions aren’t surprising. He is a pillar of the public education establishment, vehemently anti-charter and deeply suspicious of things outside the realm of government and unions. It’s not surprising he’s siding with the bureaucracy and the unions against parents exercising their legal rights to obtain a better education for their kids. A few days before the council meeting, he published a flurry of anti-charter articles on his Facebook page:
Less understandable, given his past support for charter schools and parental choice, was Mayor Tom Tait backing Moreno’s play on behalf of the AESD leadership and the school unions. Tait claimed it was “inappropriate” for the council to issue a proclamation because of litigation (the AESD Board voted this month to appeal their appellate court defeat to the state Supreme Court) and that the city shouldn’t get involved with “school district” matters.
These are on-the-fly rationalizations. The truth is the Anaheim City Council approved a resolution two years ago supporting the Palm Lane parents – for which Tait (reluctantly) voted. Murray wasn’t seeking a “proclamation” – only asking to publicly recognize them in person at a council meeting. The “city shouldn’t get involved with the school district” fig leaf is even more unbelievable since it was the Mayor who led the charge in 2016 to permanently carve out a portion of the city budget for the Anaheim Union High School District. Why is it OK to give the AUHSD a permanent claim on the city budget but recognizing the Palm Lane parents group is inappropriate involvement in school district affairs?
Councilman Steve Faessel expressed his strong support for the efforts of the Palm Lane parents – and the right of parents to do everything in their power to obtain the best education for their children – yet was inexplicably persuaded by the “litigation” rationalization and declined to support Murray’s request for recognition. Councilmembers James Vanderbilt (a former AESD Board member) and Denise Barnes remained mute but voted with Moreno and Tait.
Councilwoman Lucille Kring, like Murray, has been an ardent supporter of the Palm Lane parents. She was absent, however, and so Murray was left to cast a lonely vote in support of the Palm Lane parents.
How many times have Jose Moreno and Tom Tait talked about standing up “for the people” against the “powerful” and the “special interests”? Last night, Moreno acted on behalf of the powerful and the special interests against the interests of families with little power, and Tait backed him up.
As a matter of fact, where are all the progressive activists who regularly clog public comments at city council meetings on behalf of “the people”? Where are OCCORD, OCCCO, CLUE, UNITE-HERE, Los Amigos and the rest who claim to speak for the voiceless and powerless, the poor and working class? Here you have a large group of poor and working class immigrant families fighting for their legal rights, trying to make a better school for their children, forced into a war of attrition by an arrogant government agency. The usual progressive suspects have either missing in action or lined up with the establishment.