Bill Ensuring Students Don't Pay to Learn Clears the Assembly

June 03, 2011

AB 165 Will Help Identify, Eliminate and Prevent Illegal Student Fees

Sacramento, Calif. – Assembly Bill 165 by Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) received bipartisan support in the Assembly today with a 53-19 vote. AB 165 will put complaint and auditing procedures into place that will help identify, eliminate, and prevent the charging of illegal student fees in violation of a student’s constitutional right to a free public education.

"As Legislators, we have sworn to uphold the California Constitution. This includes its 133 years old promise of a free public education." Assemblymember Lara said. "Yet, illegal fees are being charged in direct violation of this Constitutional guarantee. It is our job to take action and prevent the charging of these fees that hurt our children and working families." said Assemblymember Lara.

An August 2010 investigation by the ACLU of Southern California uncovered a widespread practice among public school districts of charging students mandatory fees to participate in educational activities. For example, Districts were forcing students to purchase textbooks, workbooks, and assigned novels in order to matriculate in academic courses. In September 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of students alleging the fees violated the California Constitution’s free public education guarantee and discriminated against lower-income students by creating a "pay to learn" system that threatened the integrity of our state’s public education system.

AB 165 addresses the issues raised in the lawsuit and will empower students and parents to challenge fees and receive reimbursements through the existing Williams Uniform Complaint Process that provides local resolution within 30 working days and makes costly litigation unnecessary.