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Commonly Asked Questions

 

What fees can school charge?

 

 The fees, charges, and deposits that are legally authorized by law are as follows:
 

  • Charges for optional attendance as a spectator at a school or District sponsored activity.
     
  • Charges for food served to students, subject to free and reduced price meal program eligibility and other restrictions specified in the law.
     
  • Paying the replacement cost for District books or supplies loaned to a student that the student fails to return or that is willfully cut, defaced or otherwise injured, up to an amount not to exceed $10,000.
     
  • Fees for field trips and excursions in connection with courses of instruction or school related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities, as long as no student is prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
     
  • Medical or hospital insurance for field trips that are made available by the school district.
     
  • Charges for required medical and accident insurance for athletic team members, so long as there is a waiver for financial hardship.
     
  • Charges for standardized physical education attire of a particular color and design, but the school may not mandate that the attire is purchased from the school and no physical education grade of a student may be impacted based on the failure to wear standardized apparel “arising from circumstances beyond the control” of the student.
     
  • Charges for the parking of vehicles on school grounds.
     
  • Charges for the rental or lease of personal property needed for District purposes, such as caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies.
     
  • Fees for school camp programs, so long as no student is denied the opportunity to participate because of nonpayment of the fee.
     
  • Reimbursement for the direct cost of materials provided to a student for property the student has fabricated from such materials for his/her own possession and use, such as wood shop, art, or sewing projects kept by the student.
     
  • Reimbursement for the actual cost of duplicating public records, student records, or a prospectus of the school curriculum.
     
  • Fees for transportation to and from school, and transportation between school and regional occupational centers, programs or classes, as long as the fee does not exceed the statewide average non-subsidized cost per student and provided there is a waiver provision based on financial need.
     
  • Fees for transportation of pupils to places of summer employment.

 

 

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How does this Impact Fundraising?

 

May a school accept donations from parents and guardians?
Yes. Schools may accept donations of funds and property so long as the donation is truly voluntary and is not a requirement for participation in a program or activity. Any statement or explanation related to the donation that could lead a reasonable person to believe that the donation may not be truly voluntary should be avoided. The opportunity to participate in educational programs, including extracurricular activities, must not be linked to either the willingness or the ability of the student or the student’s family to pay a fee or request a fee waiver.

 

May a school solicit donations or engage in fundraising activities?
The law does allow school districts to request voluntary donations and engage in fundraising activities and programs.  An entire school, class, sports team, or club may voluntarily participate in fundraising. 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.Schools may engage in fundraising activities and programs as long as the raising of funds is voluntary. Schools may require students to attend a fundraising event, but if the students are unable to raise funds for the event the students cannot be prevented from participating in an educational activity.

 

What does this mean for other fundraising organizations, such as PTA and booster clubs?
Because they are connected to the schools, they must also collect money legally.  Parents and students cannot be required to provide specific funds or items and no consequences can be put on a student or family who does not donate. 

 

Can students be recognized for their fundraising efforts?
Yes, students may receive prizes or other non-academic recognition for voluntarily participating in fundraising activities.  However, students may not be singled out for their lack of participation if they who do not fundraise or make donations.

 

Can students be asked to participate in fundraising events?
Students can be expected to attend a fundraising event as an element of participation.  For example, expecting members of a vocal ensemble to attend a fundraising concert that is on its calendar of events does not violate the "free school" guarantee, so long as attendance is the only requirement.  Another example is when members of an athletic team are expected to help out with a fundraising sale at a Back to School Night or Open House, as long as the only requirement is participation in the event.

 

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What does the law say?

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California Department of Education’s Fiscal Management Advisory regarding Pupil Fees, Deposits, and other Charges dated July 11, 2017 PDF Format

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.

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.

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