Out of necessity, cash strapped schools have for years been asking parents to cover some of the most basic classroom needs: craft supplies, a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, an Algebra book.
But it turns out that is illegal and California school districts have until Friday to draw up procedures for parents to complain if they feel their school is charging them for educational activities.
The guidelines should provide parents and students a modified uniform complaint process so concerns can be resolved at the local level, without costly litigation.
The deadline was established in Assembly bill 1575 signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last fall.
The passage of the bill lead to the dismissal of a class action lawsuit, Doe v. State of California, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit alleged that the imposition of such fees violated the state Constitution, which has guaranteed children access to free public schools since 1879.
“School districts have had five months to modify their complaint procedures to address concerns about fees,” said Brooks Allen, director of education advocacy for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “Every student and parent should feel confident they have recourse should they encounter a fee that denies free and equal access to all the classes and educational activities their school has to offer.”
The ACLU/SC has a sample complaint form that students and parents may use to file complaints.
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