At its meeting this week, the IUSD Board of Education engaged in a discussion with attorney Mark Bresee on the ramifications of a recent legal settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the state of California over student fees.
In September, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state over charges and deposits imposed on public school students, citing examples from 32 districts, including IUSD. Both sides have since agreed on a tentative settlement with broad ramifications that will require school districts to review and modify their practices.
Though terms of the settlement will be spelled out in subsequent legislation, Bresee said Tuesday that students and parents cannot be required to pay money to gain access to educational activities, nor can they be charged for materials and supplies necessary to participate in educational activities. He affirmed that “educational activities” include those considered extracurricular, including music, sports and some clubs. However, the law does not prohibit schools and districts from requesting voluntary donations, which will be critical to preserve programs and activities in Irvine.
Before the settlement, rules pertaining to student fees were mostly found only in judicial decisions and formal opinions of the California Attorney General, Bresee said. Once legislation is finalized, the rules will be found in state codes, regulations and audit guidelines, and they’ll be printed on classroom posters. New provisions will detail enforcement measures, including complaint procedures and annual reviews.
Following a budget presentation and discussion, board members on Tuesday voted to certify the district’s Second Interim Report as “positive,” meaning IUSD is on track to meet its financial obligations through next year, though a deficit is anticipated in 2012-13.
Lisa Howell, assistant superintendent of Business Services, said the governor’s plan to extend some temporary taxes is critical for education. If the extensions make it to the June ballot and are approved by voters, funding for schools will remain relatively flat, though IUSD will still lose about $513,000. If the taxes aren’t renewed, Howell said, Irvine will lose an estimated $8.9 million, and additional cuts will be necessary.
To read a PDF recap of the March 1 board meeting, click here.