The fight over the future of the Desert Trails Elementary School was a nasty chapter in the history of public education. A billionaire funded group called Parent Revolution to the poor community to persuade parents to sign a petition to change their school. Some thought they were signing a petition for improvements; others knew the petition would turn the school over to a charter operator. A majority of parents signed the petition, but some tried to withdraw their signatures when they realized that they were agreeing to hand the management of their school over to a private board. A judge ruled that those who had signed the petition were not allowed to change their minds, so the petition succeeded with a minority of parent votes. Eventually only a small minority of the parents at the school selected a charter operator to run the school. The main accomplishment of the Parent Trigger was to bring conflict and divisiveness, not better education, to the community.


As I reported in the last post, the local school board rejected a renewal of the charter. You can expect that this matter will go to court, as the Parent Revolution organization has millions of dollars in its coffers.


Since California suspended state testing in its transition from its old standards to the Common Core, there was not much score data. But the crux of the matter can be found in the board’s discussion of governance. Who really was in charge of the charter?

Read this document, in which the board outlines its reasons for denying a renewal of the Desert Trails charter. The key section begins at the bottom of page 4, which reviews the unusual governance structure of the school.



DTPA’s governance structure raises a variety of concerns. DTPA is governed by Desert Trails, Inc., a nonprofit public benefit corporation. However, Desert Trails, Inc. has a sole statutory member, Ed Brokers Educational Services (“Ed Brokers”), another nonprofit public benefit corporation. Among other broad authority vested in Ed Brokers is the authority to approve a majority of Desert Trails, Inc.’s directors as well as removing any director at any time, thereby effectively giving Ed Brokers absolute control over the corporation and the Charter School. Thus, while technically DTPA is governed by Desert Trails, Inc., it is for all intents and purposes actually governed by Ed Brokers, and the Desert Trails, Inc. Board is under Ed Brokers’ authority.

Neither the Charter nor the bylaws provide any information about this sole statutory member of the Desert Trails, Inc. corporation, and the District is given no involvement or effective oversight authority over Ed Brokers. As a result of this structure, grave concerns arise as to what, if any, real authority the Desert Trails, Inc. Board has over DTPA, and corresponding concerns about the District’s ability effectively to exercise its oversight obligations. This corporate structure and DTPA’s Charter do not effectively ensure public access and accountability by specifically requiring Ed Brokers to comply with the Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act, and/or other conflict of interest laws applicable to public agencies, and other similar laws and requirements that dictate transparency and public accountability in the operation of the public school system, including charter schools.


It is a most unusual arrangement, and it gets even more complicated.