Governor vetoes student fee bill but stresses the right to a free public education

Gov. Jerry Brown recently pored through scores of legislative bills, offering his signature on some while vetoing others.

One of those that didn’t make the cut was Assembly Bill 165, which would have consolidated existing laws that prohibit schools from charging improper fees for classes or extracurricular activities. The legislation would have also established new complaint and audit procedures.

The bill was drafted in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union, which alleged that a number of schools were imposing impermissible charges to help pay for programs and services. Though Gov. Brown surprised many with his veto over the weekend, he also asserted that the California Constitution guarantees the right to a free public education.

“Local district compliance with this right is essential, and those who fail should be held accountable,” the governor wrote. “But this bill takes the wrong approach to getting there.”

It remains to be seen if the Legislature will introduce a new bill pertaining to student fees and charges. Either way, IUSD is committed to ensuring its practices align with the California Constitution and case law by emphasizing that requests for donations are strictly voluntary, and that no student will be denied an educational opportunity, regardless of whether a contribution is made. In fact, IUSD began analyzing the issue of student fees before the ACLU filed its suit.

“The right to a free public education is more than just the legal standard in California, it is a moral imperative,” Superintendent Terry L. Walker said. “Though our district will work to preserve valuable enrichment opportunities through local donations, we will also emphasize at every turn that all contributions to our programs are voluntary.”

For more on student fees in IUSD, click here.