<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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Has California failed to protect children’s right to free education?

Marcel Antonisse/AFP/Getty Images

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If your public school child is told that he or she should attend a particular event or do a special project but is then charged for attending or not given materials, is the state of California failing to follow through on its promise of a free education?

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California against the state of California asks just this, based on the case of an Orange County resident identified as Jane Doe, who wasn’t able to purchase a Spanish workbook for a class and was then singled out by her instructor for not having paid. On Thursday, state officials attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that it is not the appropriate party to sue, but Superior Court Judge Carl J. West did not agree and has allowed the case to move forward.


What is the state’s obligation when it comes to school supplies and trips? If we expect textbooks, what about pens, pencils, binders and backpacks? Laptops? IPads? If an individual instructor adds a field trip to the curriculum, should the state pay? The school? The families of the students in the class?


Mark Bresee, former head lawyer, San Diego Unified

Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel, ACLU of Southern California