Photo gallery: Hesperia charter school set to take over Desert Trails Elementary


ADELANTO -- After 21 months of battling their local school district over the future of a failing elementary school, Adelanto parents definitively won Tuesday night, when the board voted to approve a charter school taking over the campus of the school.

The Adelanto Elementary School District voted 4-0 to approve the petition submitted by Debra Tarver, who operates the LaVerne Preparatory Academy in Hesperia.

In October, the Desert Trails Parent Union announced they'd selected Tarver to take over Desert Trails Elementary School, where three-quarters of students are unable to read and write up to standards, according to state testing scores. They used California's "parent-trigger" law, which allows groups who collect signatures from more than 50 percent of parents to imposing sweeping changes on the school, to force the district to relinquish control of the campus after the current school year comes to an end.

LaVerne Preparatory Academy received a 911 out of 1,000 Academic Performance Index score this fall, one of the highest in San Bernardino County, where the schools got an average 767 API. Desert Trails got a 699 this year, down 13 points from the year before.

"I've been through three of these (votes) and this is the only one that brings tears to my eyes," Tarver said after the meeting.

She wasn't alone: Parents and supporters hugged and openly wept after the vote, which took place almost exactly a year after they first turned in the petition indicating they wanted to usurp control over Desert Trails.

"We knew this was going to happen," mother Kathy Duncan, who has three students in the school, said after.

Parents attend the Adelanto Unified School District meeting Tuesday night. The board voted 4-0 to approve the petition submitted by Debra Tarver, who
Parents attend the Adelanto Unified School District meeting Tuesday night. The board voted 4-0 to approve the petition submitted by Debra Tarver, who operates the LaVerne Preparatory Academy in Hesperia. (Beau Yarbrough/Staff Writer)

"We knew, we knew," agreed Olivia Zamarripa, mother to two Desert Trails students. "We toured her (Hesperia) school."

Indeed, that seemed to be the deciding factor for the board as well, several of whom spoke at length about their visits to LaVerne Prep.

Board member Debra Jones recounted meeting a wheelchair-bound sixth grader on her visit, who came up to her and introduced himself after she stopped by her classroom.

"Our most vulnerable students need to feel that confidence," Jones said. "I look forward to great things in our district under your leadership."

Board president Christine Turner agreed.

"This has been a long process. A very long process," she said.

If the parent group wanted a charter operator to take over Desert Trails, she wanted them to find the best charter operator they could. She was happy with their choice of Tarver.

"After the cameras are gone, after the newspapers are gone, our kids will still be here," needing a good education, Turner said.

Tarver will begin holding meetings with prospective Desert Trails Preparatory Academy parents next week, she said, and her staff will begin moving into the elementary school campus this summer.


Reach Beau at via email, call him at 909-483-9376, or find him on Twitter @InlandED.