The proposed Education Code (49011[b]) states the the following requirements apply to student fees:
- All supplies, materials and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.
- A waiver process shall not render an otherwise impermissible fee permissible.
- School districts and schools shall not establish a two-tier educational system by requiring a minimal educational standard and also offering a second, higher educational standard that pupils may only obtain through payment of fee or purchase of additional supplies that the school district or a school does not provide.
- The school district or a school shall not offer course credit or privileges related to educational activity in exchange for money or donations of goods or services from a pupil or pupil's parents or guardians, and a school district or school shall not renew course credit or privileges related to educational activities, or otherwise discriminate against a pupil, because the pupil or the pupil's parents or guardians did not or will not provide money or donations of goods or services to the school district or a school.
Section 5 of Article IX of the State of California Constitution guarantees students a “free public education.” The State Supreme Court concluded in the 1984 case of Hartzell v. Connell (35 Cal.3d.899 (1984)), “that all educational activities carried on by public school districts, extra-curricular as well as curricular, must be without cost to the students who participate in such activities.” This same ruling found that “mandatory fees for participating in such extra-curricular activities as drama, music, and athletic competition were illegal under the State Constitution.” Furthermore, they also rejected the argument that “fees could be charged so long as the district waived fees for students who were financially unable to pay.”
Please note that the law does not prohibit a school district or its programs from requesting voluntary donations or fundraising activities and programs. These donations and fundraising financial contributions are voluntary, and all students will be allowed to participate in school activities and extracurricular activities regardless of whether the parent or legal guardian makes a donation or contribution.