Debra Tarver, the founder and executive director of LaVerne Preparatory Academy in Hesperia presented her charter position for Desert Trails Preparatory Academy at the meeting of the Adelanto Elementary School board.
About 75 supporters of the proposal charter school attended the meeting, many in their black "Desert Trails Parent Union" t-shirts.
In October, Adelanto parents 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 a law that lets groups who collect signatures from more than 50 percent of parents to imposing sweeping changes on the school.
"We wholeheartedly support the charter school," Desert Trails Parent Union member Joe Morales told the board during the public comment section of the meeting Tuesday. "We respectfully request you give Debbie Tarver the opportunity to succeed in Adelanto the way (her school has) in Hesperia."
The Desert Trails Parent Union and AESD appeared in court several times this year, arguing over whether petition signatures were admissible and whether the state's parent trigger law allowed the school district or the parents to call the shots on what happened next. The Adelanto group's use of the law is the first successful attempt since it was signed into law in 2010.
Tuesday night was the next hurdle to be cleared: Tarver, who has run two different charter schools in Hesperia, still had to have her charter petition approved by the school board. School boards can and do reject petitions that fail to explain various aspects of the school's educational or business plans.
Board members were very aware of the national attention the Desert Trails story has garnered.
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't care about (the public's) eyes," board member Elaine Gonzales said. "I care about our children's eyes."
"This is about here in Adelanto, but not everybody running their mouth is from Adelanto," board member Jermaine Wright said, nominally speaking about the membership of the future Desert Trails Preparatory school board. "If they're going to be in charge of kids in Adelanto, they should be from Adelanto."
The Desert Trails Parent Union received a great deal of assistance from outside-the-area groups, including the Los Angeles-based grouped Parent Revolution, which provided legal counsel for the parent union Tuesday night.
"At the end of the day, it is about the child and what we can offer them and their lessons for life," Tarver said.
The new school would follow the model established by her K-8 Hesperia school, with a classical education model, including the teaching of Latin to her elementary school students and high academic expectations.
Wright was skeptical about Desert Trails Prep's projected enrollment of up to 720 students.
"Realistically, with 57 parents (who voted for the school), we're looking at maybe 200 students," he said. "Is 720 students a realistic number when there's not 720 kids in that (current) school?"
The enrollment figure was based on the number of families within the school's boundary, LaVerne officials said.
"We've been very hard on charters here," board member Christine Turner told Tarver. The district is currently home to only one charter school. "We're asking questions we need to ask. And they will be asked."
After an hour and 15 minutes, the board still had more questions to ask: The meeting ended before the public hearing did. The board will continue asking questions at a special workshop meeting later this month.
The school district has up to 60 days to decide on the petition.
Reach Beau via email, call him at 909-386-3826, or find him on Twitter @InlandEd.