Saturday, September 11, 2010

ACLU Sues Over Illegal Fees

It's a drum I've been beating for a very long time. Even this year, my own school tried to charge a "locker fee", but after I raised a stink and they looked into it, they acknowledged that the fee was illegal and offered to refund the money to any student who paid it.

California schools may soon take this issue a bit more seriously, as the ACLU is now suing:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Friday for allowing school districts to charge students for books, uniforms, classes and other basic supplies.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that more than 30 districts require students and their families to pay for basic supplies that are supposed to be provided at no cost. Districts cited in the lawsuit include Beverly Hills, Burbank and Long Beach.

It will be interesting to see if the suit looks into the fees charged for school athletics and cheerleading :-)

I don't often agree with the ACLU but I'll give them props when they do something right--and this is definitely one of those times.


Rhymes With Right said...

Of course, it strikes me that fees for those things that are not a part of the curriculum are fundamentally different from fees for those things that are a part of the curriculum. Are football and cheerleading classes at your school?

Darren said...

A 1984 California Supreme Court ruling held that athletics and cheerleading are integral to the school experience in a way that the German Club, for instance, is not, and therefore fall under the "free education" requirement of the state constitution.

Anonymous said...

The CA Supreme Court notwithstanding, I consider athletics and cheerleading far less integral to the school experience than the German Club or any other academic club. I'd like to see all schools (including colleges) remove all athletics and extracurriculars (including performing arts, music etc) except the academic ones. Remove the distraction and let Parks and Rec and clubs do the extracurriculars. After all, the name clearly identifies such activities as outside of the (academic) curriculum. Yes, I do know that's major heresy.

BTW, I had four full-time elite athletes and they all agree on that issue. With the (probable) exception of football, almost/all sports and activities have a strong club structure that parallels the schools'. In more than a few cases, the clubs are a much larger factor than the schools. Think swimming, soccer, dance, lacrosse, tennis, track, baseball, gymnastics etc. Some of the top Olympic athletes in those sports have limited-to-no experience in school sports. Art, music and theater also have strong programs outside of school.

Darren said...

I could agree with you, but the Court isn't going to change its mind on this and the decision is one I can live with. I'd rather it said something like, "Whenever you compete with the school's name on you, it's part of the curriculum." That would ensure that events like Academic Decathlon, Moot Court, Mock Trial, Science Olympiad, etc., would have been included in the decision.