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Student Fees

Donations, Permissible, and Impermissible

Student Fees: An Overview

(August, 2019)

 

This document provides general guidelines and procedures regarding permissible and impermissible student fees, charges, and donations, as well as fundraisers.

Under the California Constitution and Assembly Bill (AB) 1575 (Education Code §§ 49010 et seq.), the free school guarantee prohibits charging students any fee, charge, or deposit for any curricular, extracurricular, credit, or non-credit activity that is an integral fundamental part of the District or a school site’s educational program.

There are, however, specific statutes in the Education Code and other laws which identify definite circumstances when fees and charges are permissible, consistent with the ability to impose such fees or charges under title 5, § 350 of the California Code of Regulations. Those specific situations are included in this document.

Nothing in the law prohibits solicitation of voluntary donations or contributions from students or their families, or fundraising by students and their families to support District and school site programs, so long as monetary donations, contributions, and fundraising activities are not made mandatory for students and their families and there are no conditions placed upon a voluntary donation.

Charges by the District, a school, school program, or private businesses to students for services or activities that are not integral fundamental parts of the District or a school site’s educational program are permissible (e.g., school pictures or sports pictures).

To help our families and community understand how they can best support the programs their children are participating in, clear communication is critical. Any written communication must be approved by your principal prior to distribution.

Should you have questions regarding student fees, charges, donations, or fundraisers, contact your site principal or the Educational Services Department.

General Rules

 

Rule

Authority

The free school guarantee under the California Constitution prohibits charging students any fee, charge or deposit for curricular, extracurricular, credit, or non-credit activities that are part of the District’s or a school sites’ educational program.

California Constitution, article IX, § 5

Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899

Ed. Code, §§ 49010-11 (AB 1575)

Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 350

Fees and charges are permissible where specifically provided for by the Education Code.

Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 350

Ed. Code, § 49011, subd. (e) (AB 1575)

For purposes of “educational activities” for which student fees, charges and deposits cannot be imposed, such activities include “an activity offered by a school, school district, charter school, or county office of education that constitutes an integral fundamental part of elementary and secondary education, including, but not limited to, curricular and extracurricular activities.”

Ed. Code, § 49010, subd. (a) (AB 1575)

Charges by private businesses to students for services that are not integral parts of the District or school site’s educational program are permissible, even if facilitated by the District or school site (e.g., school pictures or sports pictures).

California Constitution, article IX, § 5

Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899

Prohibited fees, charges and deposits include, but are not limited to:

(1)       A fee charged to a pupil as a condition for registering for school or classes, or as a condition for participation in a class or an extracurricular activity, regardless of whether the class or activity is elective or compulsory, or is for credit.

(2)       A security deposit, or other payment, that a pupil is required to make to obtain a lock, locker, book, class apparatus, musical instrument, uniform, or other materials or equipment.

(3)       A purchase that a pupil is required to make to obtain materials, supplies, equipment, or uniforms associated with an educational activity.

Ed. Code, § 49010, subd. (b)(1)-(3) (AB 1575)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permissible Student Charges and Fees

 
 

Permissible Charge

Authority

Direct Cost Fabrication-Purchase Fees

Ed. Code, § 17551

 

(Students may be charged a fabrication purchase fee for the direct costs in purchasing a project/ property fabricated in a class such as a pitcher in ceramics. The charge is limited to the direct costs for the project. Absent purchase of the project for its direct costs, the school site may keep the project as its own personal property. Distinct from a fabrication/purchase fee for direct costs, up front general fees for supplies are not permissible.)

 

(A “direct costs, fabrication purchase fee” should not be imposed for “fabricated” projects that are perishable.)

 

(Direct Cost Fabrication-Purchase fees, pursuant to Education Code section 17551, may be imposed in the following classes:

 

·      Advanced Digital Production (HS)

·      Advanced Photography (HS)

·      AP Studio Art (HS)

·      Art 1, 2, and 3 (HS)

·      Ceramics (HS)

·      Culinary Arts (HS)

·      Digital Photography (HS)

·      Media Arts (HS)

·      Art (MS)

 

For courses like those listed above, in which an instructor believes a fee under section 17551 is appropriate, the instructor must seek and obtain written approval to impose such fees from the supervising administrator. (Approval must be obtained in advance of seeking to impose such a fee.)

Science Camp Fees

Ed. Code, §§ 35335 and 8760

 

(While the Education Code allows for this fee, it cannot be mandatory, and a student cannot be denied the opportunity to participate in science camp for nonpayment of the fee.)

 

Permissible Charge

Authority

Copies of Student Records

Ed. Code, § 49065

(Current students may be required to pay the direct costs for furnishing of copies of any student record. Note, this charge does not apply and is impermissible where a former student seeks up to two copies of transcripts, as the statute provides that “no charge shall be made for furnishing . . . up to two transcripts of former pupil’s records . . . .”)

Library Late Fees or Fines

Ed. Code, §§ 48904, 19910, 19911

 

Before imposition of library late fine or fee, students must be notified in writing that the book or other library property is past due, and be given 30 days to return the past-due book or other library property.

Field Trip Fees

Ed. Code, § 35330

 

(Fees for field trips include those for field trips or excursions in connection with courses of instruction or school-related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities. Although the Education Code allows for the charge of a fee for the direct costs for field trips, students cannot be denied the opportunity to participate in the field trip for failure to pay the fee.). Athletic transportation charges fall under this category.

Fees for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Diploma examinations

CDE Fiscal Management Advisory 12-02 (CDE Fiscal Advisory 12-02)

 

(“Fees for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Diploma examinations for college credit, so long as (1) taking the exam is not a course requirement and

(2) the exam results have no impact on a pupil’s grade or credit in a course. An LEA may fund all or part of the cost of the AP test fee for an economically disadvantaged high school pupil or the IB test fee for a low- or middle-income pupil. (EC Sections 52240-52243; 52920-52922.)”)

Yearbooks

The sale of yearbooks is a fundraising activity, and possession of a yearbook is not an integral part of the educational process.

Parking Fees

Consistent with the ruling in Arcadia Unified School District v State Department of Education (1992) 2 Cal.4th 251, and transportation fees under Education Code § 38907.5, Vehicle Code section 21113 gives the District authority to limit and impose conditions on parking on school grounds, and parking on school grounds is not an educational activity. Therefore, high schools may impose a reasonable parking fee.

 

Permissible Charge

Authority

Charge for damaged school property or failure to return school property on loan to student

Ed. Code, § 48904

CDE Fiscal Management Advisory 16-01

 

Note the following points under this provision:

1.     Section 48904 allows for imposition of a charge where District property has been “willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise injured, or whose property is loaned to a pupil and willfully not returned upon demand of an employee of the district…” After a student/student’s family has been asked to pay the relevant charge for damaged or lost school property, the student’s family may pay the charge or complete a voluntary work program in lieu of paying the charge.

2.     If the required charge is not paid, the District may withhold the grades, diploma, and transcripts of the pupil responsible for the damage or loss, so long as the student is afforded the same procedural due process rights as received in an expulsion hearing under Education Code section 48918 before the withholding, and until the pupil or the pupil’s parent or guardian has paid for the damages.)

According to the CDE’s most recent Fiscal Management Advisory on student fees, under Education Code section 48904(a)(1), a school district can charge a fee (not to exceed $10,000) when a student “willfully” cuts, defaces, or otherwise injures any real or personal property belonging to a school district, or personal property of a school employee. School districts should analyze, on a case-by-case basis, whether property has been willfully damaged. A blanket policy that charges fees for any damage to property may be inconsistent with the statute.

Insurance for Athletic Team Members

Ed. Code, § 32221

CDE Fiscal Advisory 12-02

(If a member of the team is financially unable to pay the cost of insurance, the District must cover the cost.)

Deposits for school band instruments, music, uniforms, and otherregalia that the band members take with them on excursions to foreign countries

Ed. Code, § 38120

 

(As described below in Impermissible Fees, such a fee or deposit is not permitted for band instruments, music, uniforms, and other regalia when not for the specific use on excursions to foreign countries.)

Physical Education Uniforms

Ed. Code, § 49066

CDE Fiscal Management Advisory 97-02

CDE, Student Fee Appeal Decision, Appeal No. 2013-82

 

(The design and color must be of a type sold for general wear outside school, and the student’s grade may not be adversely affected due to the fact that the student does not wear the uniform, where the failure to wear the uniform arises from circumstances beyond the student’s control.)

Impermissible Charges and Fees
 

Impermissible Charge

Authority/Explanation

Instructional Materials and Other Necessary School Supplies

Ed. Code, § 49011, subd. (b)(1) (AB 1575) (“All supplies, materials, and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.”)

 

Ed. Code, § 60070 (“No school official shall require any pupil . . . to purchase any instructional material for the pupil’s use in the school.”)

 

Ed. Code, § 38118 (“Writing and drawing paper, pens, inks . . . crayons, lead pencils, and other necessary supplies for the use of the schools, shall be furnished under direction of the governing boards of the school districts.”)

 

 

Band Instruments, Band and Choir Uniforms

Ed, Code, § 38111

Ed. Code, § 49011, subd. (b)(1) (AB 1575) (“All supplies, materials, and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.”)

 

(There is an exception to this rule discussed above in Permissible Fees for purposes of excursions to foreign countries.)

Athletic, Cheer or Like Uniforms

Ed. Code, § 38111

Ed. Code, § 49011, subd. (b)(1) (AB 1575) (“All supplies, materials, and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.”)

Participation in any District or school site athletic or other extracurricular offering such as band, choir, or drama

California Constitution, article IX, § 5 Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899 Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 350

Ed. Code, §§ 49010-11 (AB 1575)

CDE Fiscal Advisory 12-02

Student body membership fees as a condition for enrollment or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities sponsored by the school

California Constitution, article IX, § 5 Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899 Ed. Code, § 49010, subd. (b)(1)

Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 350 CDE Fiscal Advisory 12-02