New Law Prohibits Barriers To Charter School Enrollment

November 2019
Number 69

A new law is intended to discourage the improper recruitment and disenrollment of charter school students, particularly students who belong to certain protected classes. Recently signed by Governor Newsom, Senate Bill (SB) 75 adds a provision to California’s Charter Schools Act to prohibit charter schools from discouraging a student from enrolling or continuing to enroll in the charter school.

The law lists explicitly unlawful bases for “counseling out” students and their families, including nationality, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or if a student exhibits characteristics of: a disability; an academically low-achieving student; an English learner; a neglected or delinquent student; a homeless student; a student who is economically disadvantaged; or a foster youth. In furtherance of the law’s purpose, charter schools are also prohibited from requesting a student’s records, or requiring a parent, guardian, or student to submit the student’s records to the charter school, prior to enrollment. Historically, charter schools have always been required to accept all students that are California residents, regardless of academic achievement, disability, economic status, etc. Here, the California Legislature recognizes problems that have arisen, where certain groups of students were being discouraged from enrolling, or encouraged to disenroll, in some charter schools.

Under the law, the California Department of Education (CDE) is directed to develop a notice and complaint form stating the new legal requirements, and charter schools are required to post the notice on their respective websites. Charter schools also now have an affirmative duty to provide a copy of the CDE notice to parents, guardians, and students over age eighteen when the parent, guardian, or student over age eighteen inquires about enrollment; before conducting an enrollment lottery; and before the disenrollment of any student. In order to ensure enforcement, any member of the public has a right to file a complaint with the charter school’s authorizer, often the local school district, if the person suspects a charter school has violated the provisions of this law. CDE’s notice and complaint form can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ch/cscomplaint.asp.

Although the law creates a process for aggrieved families to complain to charter authorizers, it is silent regarding exactly what action a charter authorizer must take when it receives a complaint. The recently revised statutes regarding charter school renewals, which go into effect in July 2020, shed some light onto the complaint review process (See 2019 Client News Brief No. 49). The law now indicates that, when determining whether to renew a school’s charter, an authorizer must consider, along with other criteria, any substantiated complaints that the charter school has not complied with the new enrollment requirements described above. The determination of whether a complaint is “substantiated” is left to the charter authorizer, and thus the law infers that charter authorizers must develop their own complaint investigation processes. Still, some questions remain unanswered. For example, if the authorizer investigates the complaint and discovers a potential legal violation, what action is the charter authorizer supposed to take, aside from considering whether to revoke the charter? The new law does not appear to create an enforcement mechanism, aside from considering compliance during the charter renewal process.

Takeaways

Charter schools and charter authorizers should be careful to ensure that charter schools are not discouraging any student from attaining or maintaining charter school enrollment. Charter schools must be extra careful when dealing with students who are members of the groups specifically protected under the law. Since the law took immediate effect in July, charter schools should post the CDE notice and complaint form on their websites and implement clear policies for staff regarding the distribution of the CDE notice, in short order. Note that charter schools are still permitted to suspend or expel students for disciplinary reasons, so long as such discipline conforms to federal and state statutory and constitutional due process requirements, and is otherwise consistent with the law, and the processes laid out in the charter.

If you have any questions about SB 75, the amendments to the Education Code regarding charter schools, or charter school student enrollment in general, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us onFacebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Edward J. Sklar

Partner

Sophia V. Cohn

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Governor Newsom Signs Comprehensive Reforms for Charter Schools

October 2019
Number 49

In the largest overhaul of California’s Charter Schools Act (“Act”) since it was enacted in 1992, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1505 and AB 1507 on October 3, 2019. The Act authorizes the establishment and operation of charter schools in California. The closely watched and hotly debated reforms impact most aspects of charter school authorization, including oversight, appeals, and renewals. Enactment of AB 1505 and AB 1507 follows months of negotiations and compromises from both sides in the ongoing charter school debate.

Background

Charter schools operate independently from school districts, but they require oversight from the school district or county board that authorizes them. In the last decade, California has seen unprecedented growth in the number of charter schools. According to the California Department of Education (“CDE”), there were approximately 1,306 charter schools and seven all-charter districts in California at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year. With this growth has come criticism that the law was not keeping pace with necessary checks and balances on charter school operation and the impacts charter schools have on public school districts. These bills were introduced to correct deficiencies and close loopholes brought to light by litigation, including Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262 handled by Lozano Smith (see Client News Brief), as well as a subsequent Legislative Audit examining charter school operation and oversight, and the work of the Governor’s California Charter School Policy Task Force.

AB 1505

Most provisions of AB 1505 are set to go into effect on July 1, 2020. Major highlights of AB 1505 include the following changes:

  • Petition Approval Criteria. When considering whether or not to grant or deny a petition for a new charter school, a district may consider whether the charter school will serve the interests of the entire community in which the charter school is proposing to locate. Further, if a district meets certain criteria, the district may also consider whether or not it is positioned to absorb the fiscal impact of the proposed charter school.
  • Petition Review Timelines. The timeline for a school district to review an initial charter petition and a renewal petition has been extended. The district must hold a public hearing to consider the level of support for the petition 60 days after the petition is submitted, and the district must now hold a second public hearing to take action on a petition 90 days after the petition is submitted. Additionally, the governing board of a school district or county board of education is now required to publish all staff recommendations and findings regarding a charter petition at least 15 days before the public hearing at which the board will either approve or deny the initial or renewal petition. Petitioners must also be afforded equivalent time to present evidence and testimony to the governing board at the public hearing in which the petition will be approved or denied.
  • Petition Renewal Criteria. Charter petition renewals will be considered under a 3-tiered system whereby authorizers must consider the academic performance of the charter school on the state indicators included in the evaluation rubrics (the “Dashboard”) adopted by the State Board of Education (“SBE”). Under the tiered system, a “high performing” charter school may be renewed for five to seven years, an “average performing” charter school may be renewed for five years, and a “low performing” charter school, generally, may not be renewed. However, under certain conditions, a “low performing” charter school may be renewed for a two year period. Additionally, the requirement to consider increases in pupil academic achievement as the most important factor in determining whether to grant or deny a renewal has been eliminated.
  • Appeal Process. The new law modifies the appeal process for denials of a new charter school petition or renewal of an existing charter at both the county and state level in a variety of ways. For example, a petition submitted on appeal to a county board of education or the SBE containing “new or different material terms” will be immediately remanded back to be reconsidered by the district within 30 days of remand. Additionally, districts and county boards of education are required to prepare and submit an administrative record to the SBE upon request of the petitioners. The SBE may only reverse the denial of a petition or renewal if it finds there was an “abuse of discretion” by the county or district, or both. If a petition is approved on appeal to the SBE, either the district or county office of education will be designated as the authorizing authority, effectively eliminating the SBE as a charter school authorizer.
  • Nonclassroom-Based Charter Schools. The new law creates a 2-year moratorium on the approval of a petition for the establishment of a new charter school offering nonclassroom-based instruction, effective January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022. According to the California Charter School Policy Task Force Report, the two year freeze on nonclassroom-based charter school will allow advocates to spend the time studying issues related to the establishment of nonclassroom-based charter schools, such as their operational practices and performance, and to make further recommendations to ensure students are receiving appropriate instruction.
  • Teacher Credentialing. Under prior law, charter school teachers were only required to hold a state-approved credential if teaching a Core course. Under the new law, all teachers hired after July 1, 2020 must have the appropriate credential for their certificated assignment regardless of whether they teach a core subject. All teachers employed at a charter school during the 2019-2020 school year without a credential will have until July 1, 2025 to obtain the appropriate credential for their certificated assignment. By July 1, 2020, all charter school teachers must also obtain a certificate of clearance and satisfy the requirements for professional fitness under the Education Code.

AB 1507

AB 1507 makes two major changes to the location requirements for charters schools, effective January 1, 2020.

  • Charter School Location. Under prior law, a charter school that was unable to locate within the geographic boundaries of its authorizing district was permitted to establish one site outside the boundaries of the school district, but within the county in which that school district is located, if specific requirements were satisfied. AB 1507 eliminates this loophole and requires all charter schools to locate within the geographic boundaries of the authorizing district. A charter school lawfully established outside the boundaries of the authorizing district, but within the county, before January 1, 2020, may continue to operate at the site until the charter school submits a renewal petition. At that time, to continue operating at the same location, the charter school must either obtain written approval from the district where the charter school is operating, or submit a renewal petition to the district in which the charter school is located.
  • Resource Centers. Under prior law, a nonclassroom-based charter school was able to establish a resource center in a county adjacent to the county in which the charter school was authorized, if certain conditions were met. The new law eliminates the ability of a nonclassroom-based charter school to establish a resource center in an adjacent county. A charter school that was lawfully operating a resource center outside the geographic boundaries of the authorizing district before January 1, 2020, may continue to operate at the site until the charter school submits a renewal petition-at which time the charter school must obtain written approval from the district where the resource center is located to continue operations at the same site.

Charter School Toolkit

Lozano Smith will soon be publishing an in-depth resource with important background information, answers to frequently asked questions, an implementation checklist, and more, regarding the recent amendments to the Act. If you are interested in receiving the toolkit, please email Client Services.

Takeaways

The current legislation reflects a shift in the charter school debate in this state. Rather than an emphasis on the performance of charter schools compared to district operated schools, the changes in the Act reflect a focus on the fiscal and operational impacts that new and existing charter schools have on public school districts. The enactment of AB 1505 and AB 1507 signals a policy shift in California and marks a victory for school districts that have been advocating for more local control of the approval, renewal, and oversight process. However, as part of the legislative compromise process, some significant new obligations have been placed on districts and will likely have long term impacts on the charter school landscape in California. In the short term, school districts should expect an influx of charter petition submissions in the coming months in anticipation of the comprehensive reforms going into effect on January 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020.

If you would like more information regarding AB 1505 and AB 1507, or if you have any questions regarding charter school authorization and oversight generally, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our Podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Edward J. Sklar

Partner

Megan Macy

Partner

Erin M. Hamor

Senior Counsel

Courtney de Groof

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

New Law Allows Former Students To Change Name And Gender On Past Student Records

October 2019
Number 48

Assembly Bill (AB) 711 establishes a process for former students to change their name and gender on pupil records, including diplomas.

Existing law requires school districts to maintain and preserve, in perpetuity, certain mandatory pupil records, even after a student graduates. AB 711 was enacted to address the needs of former students and to protect their privacy rights. Prior to the enactment of this statute, former students’ prior legal names (or “dead names”) and/or gender were being inadvertently disclosed by school districts to colleges and employers with the release of their transcripts. This bill makes it easier for former students to request the pupil records maintained by a school district be changed to reflect their preferred name and/or gender on student records maintained by a school district. Notably, the AB 711 also includes diplomas as a document that may be reissued, even though diplomas are typically considered ceremonial documents and not pupil records maintained by school districts.

Under AB 711, in order for a former student’s name and/or gender to be changed on mandatory permanent records, the former student must provide legal documentation of the change. If the former student does not provide documentation of the change, they may still proceed to change their name and/or gender through the standard process for amending student records, birth certificates, passports, social security cards, or court orders indicating a name change or a gender change, or both.

Additionally, AB 711 requires that school districts add a document containing the following information to the former student’s file after the request is completed:

  • The date of the request;
  • The date the requested records were reissued to the former pupil;
  • A list of the records that were requested by, and reissued to, the former pupil;
  • The type of documentation provided by the former pupil in order to demonstrate the legal name or gender change;
  • The name of the school district, charter school, or county office of education staff person that completed the request; and
  • The current and former name or gender of the former pupil.

Takeaways

School districts should review what policies and forms they have to request name and gender changes, and ensure that those forms are in compliance with Senate Bill 179 (See 2018 CNB No. 13) and AB 711. These forms should reflect the option for former students to change their gender on student records, including with the non-binary gender marker.

If you have questions regarding AB 711, pupils records, or student issues in general, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Edward J. Sklar

Partner

Gayle L. Ketchie

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Governor Signs Charter Transparency Bill

March 2019
Number 15

Newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill aimed at increasing charter school transparency. Senate Bill (SB) 126 settles, once and for all, the debate over whether charter schools and their governing bodies are subject to California’s open meeting, conflicts of interest, and public records laws.

Background

Previous attempts to pass legislation intended to make charter schools subject to California’s “sunshine laws” were vetoed by former Governor Jerry Brown. By comparison, SB 126 was fast-tracked through the Legislature at the Governor’s urging. The new law comes on the heels of a December 26, 2018 Attorney General opinion which concluded that charters schools were subject to sunshine and conflict of interest laws under the existing statutory scheme. (See 2019 Client News Brief No. 7.) Unlike the statute, the Attorney General opinion was advisory, but not binding.

SB 126

SB 126, which will take effect on January 1, 2020, makes charter schools and entities managing charter schools subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act), the California Public Records Act (Public Records Act), Government Code section 1090 and the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Political Reform Act).

While these laws have never explicitly exempted charter schools, SB 126 specifically provides that charter schools will be held to the same transparency and accountability standards as other public and local agencies, including school districts. In the past, charter authorizers sometimes entered into separate agreements with charter schools mandating compliance with these laws, something that will no longer be necessary once SB 126 takes effect.

Compliance with the Brown Act will impact the practices of many charter schools and the entities managing charter schools. Among other things, the bill requires charter school governing bodies to hold meetings within the physical boundaries of the county where the charter schools are located, or, within the county in which the greatest number of pupils reside if the governing body operates charter schools in multiple counties. SB 126 also requires charter schools to establish two-way teleconference locations at each school site. These provisions may provide more students, parents and community members the opportunity to attend governing board meetings, which has not always been possible when charter schools are managed by entities located outside of counties where their charter schools are located.

SB 126 also requires charter schools and entities managing charter schools to:

  • Comply with California’s Public Records Act, which requires that state and local entities make their records available for public inspection or copying unless exempt from disclosure;
  • Adopt a conflict of interest policy as required by the Public Reform Act; and
  • Comply with the prohibitions against self-dealing in public contracts as required by Government Code section 1090. SB 126 permits an employee of the charter school to serve on the charter’s governing board regardless of the employee’s employment status, but the employee must abstain from voting on matters that could affect his or her employment.

Of note, SB 126 does not include any “grandfathering” language that would exempt existing charters from compliance with the new law; thus, all charter schools must be in compliance when the law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

Takeaways

SB 126 provides long awaited guidance clarifying that charter schools are subject to the same transparency laws as other public and local agencies. Authorizing school boards or county boards of education should consider reviewing and amending their policies governing charter schools to ensure the charter schools they authorize and oversee are in compliance when SB 126 takes effect on January 1, 2020. Going forward, charter schools will need to review and revise their policies and, possibly, their petitions to ensure that they are complying with all of the provisions of SB 126.

For additional information regarding SB 126 and its impact on charter schools and school districts, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or download our Client News Brief App.

Written by:

Claudia P. Weaver

Partner

Gayle L. Ketchie

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Sunshine Laws To Begin Shining On Charter Schools: Charter Schools Subject To Public Transparency Laws

January 2019
Number 7

The California Attorney General recently issued a long-awaited opinion addressing the applicability of certain “sunshine” laws to charter schools. Specifically, the Attorney General concluded that California charter schools and their governing bodies are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act), the California Public Records Act (Public Records Act), Government Code section 1090 and the Political Reform act of 1974. The opinion further states that the books and records of schools chartered by either a school district or a county board of education are subject to review and inspection by a grand jury.

Background

By design, California charter schools are explicitly exempt from many laws that apply to school districts. However, the laws addressed by the Attorney General opinion are some of the broadest public integrity laws in the state, and have never explicitly exempted charter schools. It should be noted that the request for this opinion was made seven years ago. It is our understanding that the Attorney General was waiting for the Legislature to answer these questions. Under Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown, the Legislature adopted bills stating that charter schools did need to comply with the Brown Act, Public Records Act, and conflicts of interest laws, only to have such bills vetoed by both Governors.

The Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act

The Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. The Public Records Act establishes that the records of public agencies generally must be disclosed to the public when requested. The majority of charter school petitions in California state that the school will comply with the Public Records Act and Brown Act. However, prior to this opinion, there was frequent debate as to whether charter schools were, in fact, required by law to comply with these Acts.

In answering the question, the Attorney General observed that the Education Code contains a section establishing charter schools as school districts. Interpreting this principle liberally, the Attorney General determined that both Acts apply to charter schools in the same way that they apply to school districts or other local public agencies. The Attorney General’s reasoning was that both charter schools and school districts rely on public money. Therefore, both have an obligation to be transparent.

Government Code Section 1090

Government Code section 1090 is a broad prohibition against self-dealing in public contracts by public officials. Over time, the scope of section 1090 has expanded to include any agency or public official of the state. However, whether this conflict of interest law is applicable to charter schools has been the subject of significant debate over the past several years. Relying on prior case law, the Attorney General opined that the term “any agency or official” should be liberally interpreted to include charter schools and their officials. Therefore, members of charter schools’ governing boards should be deemed to be public officials in the meaning of section 1090, and are subject to the provisions of the statute.

Political Reform Act of 1974

The purpose of the Political Reform Act is to ensure that public officials perform their duties with impartiality and disclose any financial interests which may impact their vote. In 1998, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which is charged with interpreting the Political Reform Act, concluded that board members of a charter school’s nonprofit corporation were subject to the Political Reform Act’s provisions on conflicts of interest. The Attorney General, in this opinion, gives deference to the FPPC in its decision that the governing body of a charter school that is organized as a corporation is subject to this law. Due to the prior FPPC opinions on this issue, many of California’s charter schools already operate in compliance with the Political Reform Act.

Books and Records in Grand Jury Proceedings

Generally, the books and records of school districts and county boards of education are subject to review during grand jury proceedings in accordance with California Penal Code section 933.6. The Attorney General opinion concludes that “any nonprofit corporation established by or operated on behalf of a public entity” which includes any charter school chartered by a local school district or county board of education, is subject to section 933.6.

However, the opinion concludes that charter schools that are chartered by the State Board of Education are not subject to grand jury review. This is because the State Board of Education is considered a state agency and not a local public entity for purposes of section 933.6. While these charter schools’ books and records would not be subject to grand jury proceedings, they would still be subject to audit by the California State Auditor.

Takeaways

In summary, the Attorney General’s long-awaited opinion states definitively that public integrity laws applicable to other local educational agencies are also applicable to charter schools. While Attorney General opinions are advisory, and not binding, they provide guidance and insight as to how a court could interpret various issues, and therefore are given great deference.

As a result, this opinion will likely prompt stricter adherence by charter schools with laws from which some have argued exempted charter schools. Moving forward, charter schools should independently conform their policies and practices to the Attorney General’s guidance that these laws apply to them. Additionally, an authorizing school district or county board of education should evaluate, and amend if necessary, its policies and procedures to ensure its charter schools’ compliance with these laws as part of the authorizer’s oversight responsibilities.

For additional information regarding the Attorney General’s opinion and its potential impact on charter schools and school districts, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or download our Client News Brief App.

Written by:

Edward J. Sklar

Partner

Gayle L. Ketchie

Associate

©2017 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

New Laws Impacting Media Literacy, Financial Aid Applications and the “A-G” Course List Will Soon Go into Effect

December 2018
Number 89

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed several bills into law that impact student instruction for public schools. Senate Bill (SB) 830 and Assembly Bills (AB) 2015 and 2239 relate to media literacy, instruction regarding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application, and the addition of courses to the “A-G” course list.

SB 830

Recognizing the influence of social media and the proliferation of false news stories, SB 830 intends to increase media literacy skills among young adults. SB 830 requires that, by July 1, 2019, the California Department of Education include on its website a list of resources and instructional materials on media literacy. The new law defines “media literacy” as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and use media and encompasses the foundational skills that lead to digital citizenship.”

AB 2015

AB 2015 concerns the FAFSA and California Dream Act Application. The FAFSA is an application to determine student financial aid eligibility. The California Dream Act Application allows undocumented students, who meet certain requirements, to apply for state student financial aid.

AB 2015 specifies that, starting with the 2020-2021 school year, school districts and charter schools must ensure that each student receives information on how to complete and submit the FAFSA and the California Dream Act Application before the student starts the 12th grade. School districts and charter schools will have discretion in determining the manner in which this information is provided to the students. However, AB 2015 states that the information to be provided in materials must include:

  • The documentation and personal information that student financial aid applications require.
  • Explanations of the definition used for each application (for instance, the definition of “legal guardianship” and “household size”).
  • Eligibility requirements related to student financial aid.
  • The application timelines and deadlines.
  • The importance of the student submitting applications early, in particular when student financial aid is awarded on a first-come basis.

In addition, AB 2015 requires that school districts and charter schools ensure that paper copies of the FAFSA and California Dream Act Application are provided to each student when requested by the student or parent/guardian of the student.

AB 2239

The University of California and California State University have established a uniform set of academic standards for high school classes, which are referred to as the “A-G” subject requirements. To satisfy college admission requirements, high school classes that are used to satisfy the “A-G” subject requirements must be approved by the University of California and included on the “A-G” course list.

AB 2239 applies to schools that offer world language classes (also known as foreign language classes) designed for native speakers which are not already approved “A-G” courses. This bill encourages school districts and charter schools to seek to include these world language classes designed for native speakers on the schools’ “A-G” course list.

Takeaways

SB 830, AB 2015, and AB 2239 all impact various aspects of student instruction. School districts and charter schools should review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with these new bills.

If you have any questions regarding these bills, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website , follow us on Facebook or Twitter or download our Client News Brief App.

Written by:

Edward J. Sklar

Partner

Aria Link

Associate

©2017 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

New Laws on Enrollment Offer Students More Flexibility and Stability and Require Website Posting by January 1, 2019

December 2018
Number 88

Through Assembly Bills (AB) 2826 and 2949, California lawmakers demonstrated a concerted effort to make the interdistrict transfer process more accessible to families, as well as provide additional protections to students of military families, who are often subject to frequent school changes.

Assembly Bill 2826 – Pupil Enrollment: Interdistrict Attendance:

AB 2826 strives to make the interdistrict transfer process more transparent and timely for families. Under the new law, which amends Education Code sections 46600 et seq., school districts have the following obligations starting on January 1, 2019:

  • Post the district’s interdistrict transfer procedures on the district’s website, including:
    • A link to the district’s policies on interdistrict transfers;
    • The date when the district will accept and process requests for the subsequent school year;
    • The reasons for approval or denial of a request;
    • Any information or documents that must be submitted as supporting evidence in a request;
    • If applicable, the process and timelines by which a denial may be appealed within the school district;
    • Notice that failure to adhere to timelines will be deemed an abandonment of the request;
    • The conditions for when an existing permit may be revoked or rescinded; and
    • Applicable timelines for processing a request, including those set out below.
  • Process Interdistrict Transfer Requests as follows:
    • Notify the parent submitting a current year request of its final decision within 30 calendar days of receipt;
    • Notify the parent submitting a future year request of its decision as soon as possible, but no later than 14 days after the start of the instruction in the school year for which the transfer is sought;
    • Provide written notice of the parents’ right to appeal to the county board of education within 30 calendar days from the final date of a denial;
    • Provisionally admit students to a requested district, based on their evidence that a final decision is pending with a district of residence, proposed district, or county board of education.

Assembly Bill 2949 – Pupil Residency: Pupils of Military Families:

Existing law provides an exception to the residency requirements for a student whose parent is transferred to or is pending transfer to a military installation within the state while on active military duty pursuant to an official military order. AB 2949 adds section 48204.6 to the Education Code to require a local educational agency to permit a student who meets certain criteria to continue attending the student’s “school of origin” during that school year, regardless of any change of residence of the military family. If the student’s status changes due to end of military service, then the student is allowed to stay in the school of origin for the remainder of the academic year if he or she is between grades 1-8, or through graduation if the student is enrolled in high school. The new law effectively mirrors the laws related to protecting foster youth and homeless children, who are also susceptible to frequent school changes.

Takeaways

By January 1, 2019, school districts must post the required interdistrict transfer policies and information on their website. School districts must also ensure compliance with the new response timelines and notice of parent’s right to appeal a transfer denial.

Local educational agencies must permit students of military families to continue to attend their schools of origin, despite changes in residence and changes in military status. Local educational agencies may seek appropriate reimbursement to comply with these provisions, consistent with the state’s rules of reimbursement for mandated costs.

If you have any questions about AB 2826 or 2949 or about laws applicable to local educational agencies in general, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or download our Client News Brief App.

Written by:

Ruth E. Mendyk

Partner

Nicholas G. Felahi

Associate

©2017 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.