In a lawsuit filed in California federal court, the American Civil Liberties Union states that the students are being charged fees that are a violation of the state’s constitutional guarantee to free public education. The class action lawsuit is not just from one school, but based on numerous schools throughout the state, including the Temecula Valley Unified School District.
The suit alleges that paying for books, extracurricular activities, uniforms and other fees is not allowed under the state’s laws.
In a recent press conference, Mark Rosenbaum who is the chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California said that some 50 districts within the region have some type of illegal fees mentioned on the school’s website, but it is likely that more charge these fees. He stated, “There does not exist in California a true system of free public schools.” He continued, “Instead what we have are pay to learn schools.”
The spokesperson for Governor Schwarzenegger states that the administration is reviewing the lawsuit to determine if the fees violate a free education within the state. The spokesperson for the Department of Education in the state did not offer a comment about the lawsuit.
In San Diego, a school district rescinded the fees it charged students after the ACLU sent a letter to the school district claiming that the fees were illegally imposed on students.
In the Temecula district, the high school is charged with requiring students to pay fees to take an Advanced Placement exam if the student is enrolled in such a problem. These fees amount to $86 per test. The assistant superintendent states that there is an informal contract that the ACLU is referring to, which is designed to educate students on the demands of such classes, and that the agreement may need to be reworded.
The state’s guidelines do allow for some fees, and principals are supposed to follow these guidelines, but the ACLU states that some of these fees may be pushing the limits.