Sally Smith, a lawyer and a San Diego Unifed School District resident, has filed three Uniform Complaints in MDUSD – against Concord, College Park and Ygnacio Valley high schools – alleging that students are being asked to pay fees illegally. She has given me permission to post each of her complaints.
Here is her complaint against Concord HS:
“From: Smith Family
Cc: “email@example.com” ; “firstname.lastname@example.org” ; “email@example.com” ; “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 3:17 PM
Subject: Uniform Complaint: Concord High School caps and gowns, bowling class, field trip
Mt Diablo Unified School District
Concord High School 4200 Concord Blvd., Concord, CA 94521
(925) 687-2030 Phone
Dear Principal Dr. Gary McAdam :
My uniform complaint is 4 illegal student fees which students had to pay at Concord High School:
1. caps and gowns – which the court declared is an integral part of the educational experience for public school students
Cap & Gown and Announcement orders!!!
Orders for caps & gowns and graduation announcements will be on Thursday, January 16th & Friday, January 17th during brunch & lunch in the Quad. These are the only order days so all Seniors must place their graduation order at this time.
ADDENDUM TO FISCAL MANAGEMENT ADVISORY 12-02
DATE: October 4, 2013
TO: County and District Superintendents Charter School Administrators
FROM: Jeannie Oropeza, Deputy Superintendent
Services for Administration, Finance, Technology, and Infrastructure
SUBJECT: Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges: Cap and Gown for High School Graduation Ceremony
Questions have arisen recently as to whether a district can require students to purchase or pay for a cap and gown if wearing a cap and gown is a condition of participation in a graduation ceremony. This memo is intended to augment Fiscal Management Advisory 12-02, dated April 24, 2013, Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges, Section III, “Fees Not Allowed.”
In Sands v. Morongo Unified Sch. Dist., 53 Cal. 3d 863, 873-874 (1991), cert. denied, 505 U.S. 1218 (1992), the California Supreme Court found that the high school graduation ceremony is “an integral part of the educational process” because it recognizes cumulative academic achievement. Therefore, the graduation ceremony is an “educational activity,” pursuant to EC Section 49010(a), as to which a pupil fee cannot be charged.
In the CDE’s view, EC Section 38119 only authorizes districts to rent caps and gowns from a supplier and provide them free of charge to students. Therefore, a cap and gown fee is not “otherwise allowed by law.” EC Section 49011(e).
For these reasons, a district may not require students to purchase a cap and gown as a condition of participating in the graduation ceremony. The CDE recommends that a district that requires students to wear a cap and gown at the ceremony inform students that: (1) the district will provide caps and gowns for graduating seniors for use during the ceremony, and (2) students also have the option to purchase an appropriate cap and gown from a vendor. No student should be required to self-identify as indigent in order to receive a cap and gown from the district.
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Last Reviewed: Friday, October 04, 2013
2. bowling class
The teacher is blatantly violating the law. He has a college education and he is obligated to follow the law but he clearly chooses not to do so by taking money he is not entitled to take from students. He tries to hide the illegal fee by having students pay the bowling alley directly. He has violated
Education Code 44805. Every teacher in the public schools shall enforce the course
of study, the use of legally authorized textbooks, and the rules and
regulations prescribed for schools.
He has made students pay for the course so indigent children are excluded. An impoverished student whose family does not have the money to pay the fee
will not enroll in the course no matter how much he or she wants to participate. The teacher doesn’t care. He wants his class and demands students fees so he can teacher the class.
Bowling is two 18-weeks course open to all Junior and Senior students. This class meets Monday’s &Thursday’s at Clayton Valley Bowl.
The schedule will be as follows: 3rd period will start at 10:20 A.M. Class will be released at 12:05 P.M. Wednesday students will meet at Concord High during regular school hours. Please see Mr. Kilcoyne for a make-up slip. Missed work must be completed within two weeks of excused absents. Please have rides taken care of and pay attention to times and dates. To enroll, students will need parental permission to provide their own transportation and donate $90.00 at the first class session. The donation must be paid within the first week of class. The donation for this class will be refunded if we do not have 100% participation. Enrollment in this class requires total commitment. All sessions must be attended. Work, sports conditioning, practice, or games cannot interfere with class, without prior arrangements and teacher approval. The hours must be obtained to receive the PE credit.
It was not a donation. It was a fee for a service in return. A donation must be voluntary, for any amount or none at all and no student should be identified for the amount he or she contributed in anyway to include no contribution. That is making children feel like deadbeats who did not contribute
their fairshare. Here is the IRS definition of donation:
Although the term “contribution” is not defined either in the Code or in the
Income Tax Regulations, it is well established judicially that in order to be
deductible under section 170 of the Code, a contribution must qualify as a gift in
the common law sense of being a voluntary transfer of property without
consideration. To the extent a transferor receives or can expect to receive, for the
money or property he or she transfers, a financial or economic benefit, as
distinguished from the incidental benefit that inures to a donor as a member of the
general public, then no deduction under section 170 is allowable. Singer v. United
States, 449 F. 2d 413 (Ct., Cl. 1971); Rev. Rul. 67-246, 1967-2 C.B. 104 Rev. Rul.
76-185, 1976-1 C.B. 60
Here is FCMAT information.
Can a teacher tell students that they must raise funds for their classroom?
Question: If there is a teacher that is teaching an AP class and he wants his students to do a fundraiser to raise money for that class with the money going towards buying materials, such as a projector or even to help pay for the AP tests?
Response: Although Education Code section 48932 allows the governing board to authorize student body organizations to conduct fund raising activities, students should participate and make contributions to fund raising events voluntarily. In addition to the fact that students cannot be required to participate in fund raising events (by teachers or any other party), they also cannot be excluded from an activity because they did not participate in raising the funds (i.e. not participate in a class or activity). In this situation, it can be perceived that the students are being asked to fundraise so that the teacher can have class supplies. It can also be perceived that if the student did not fundraise, the AP class would not exist or the student could not be in the AP class. This is not the intent of ASB fundraisers.
Students can use the proceeds from fundraising to purchase goods and services that promote the general welfare, morale and educational experiences of the students. AP tests, although optional, are normally considered a district responsibility. That is especially true in this case as the question relates to an AP class, which means that AP tests are a direct result of the class and not an “extra” over and beyond what the district should supply. Projectors for a class can be allowable in some cases, but if the projector is only used in that specific class as a means of teaching curriculum, and is not used outside of the classroom at all in other extra curricular events, it might also be viewed as a district requirement. There is often a fine line between what the district should provide and what an “extra” is that the district would not normally provide in order to teach the curriculum of that class. Sometimes that can vary from district to district based on what is normally supplied to classrooms regardless of the subject.
As you can tell, there are a lot of things to consider when both fundraising and spending ASB funds. After looking at these guidelines, hopefully such questions in the future will be easier for you to answer.
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3. Grad Night Field Trip for seniors.
These people are collecting money from students of which they are not a charity which I checked the California Attorney General website and found this:
CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC BOOSTERS 130220 Charity Delinquent CONCORD CA Charity Registration Charity
CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR BOOSTERS, INC. CT0204335 Charity Current CONCORD CA Charity Registration Charity
However, it is a school fundraising group under the control of the administrators and the seniors are an identifiable group but only those who pay can go. That’s real easy for the adults just to collect the money but shifting the collection of fees to the parents is still not legal. Students have been excluded
from this wonderful school experience. They cannot claim it is separate from the school because it is clearly only for Concord seniros and the aprents are given full access to the students by the school. It is a school field trip and fees have been charged blatantly. A record was kept of each students and how much money was collected.
Grad Night is a parent-sponsored fun, safe and sober activity that occurs immediately following graduation. Tickets are available now for $75 until October 31st (payments made after October will increase by $25 each month with a maximum cap amount of $150). Permission slips are available in the CHS main office at Student Services.
Permission slips and checks may be made payable to CHS Grad Night and can be returned in a sealed envelope with Grad Night written on the front to the Grad Night Box in the school office or mailed to:
4621 Wilson Lane
Concord, CA 94521
The next Grad Night meeting will be November 5th at 7:00 pm at 1779 Thornwood Drive. Parents of all grades are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Kim Kruse at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2010 School Services of California, Inc.
Volume 30 For Publication Date: March 26, 2010 No. 6
Ask SSC . . . What About the Students Who Didn’t Help with the Fundraising Efforts for the Field Trip?
Q. Every year near the end of the school year, our school’s 8thgrade class takes a trip to a theme park. The trip is optional for the students, and all fees are absorbed by the money generated through fundraising by the interested students. If a student wants to attend, but did not participate in the fundraising, can the district stop that student from attending the trip?
A. Education Code Section 35330(b)(1) is the provision of law that states the following:
No pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. To this end, the governing board shall coordinate efforts of community service groups to supply funds for pupils in need.
(2) No group shall be authorized to take a field trip or excursion authorized by this section if a pupil who is a member of an identifiable group will be excluded from participation in the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
The Code views the students who did not take part in the fundraising efforts, regardless of the circumstances, to be a member of the identifiable group.
The 2009 edition of the Associated Student Body Accounting Manual & Desk Reference by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) comments further on the provision of law by adding “. . . nor may a student be left behind for failing or refusing to participate in fund-raisers.” FCMAT’s manual is considered by the school finance community to be a solid source of good business practices and sound, practical advice for the complex environment of student body operations.
This implies that districts should not stop the student from participating in the trip to the theme park. Furthermore, the school has an obligation to find alternative sources to support the student in order for him or her to go on the field trip.
Can we ask parents to contribute to field trip costs and tell them it is non-refundable if their child doesn’t attend?
Question: My question concerns refunding parents for field trips their children do not end up going on. We ask parents to help by contributing toward the cost of field trips (play tickets, ferry tickets, etc.) and many of these are non-refundable expenses since we have to purchase tickets, etc. ahead of time. Is it correct/legal for us to state when asking parents to contribute that the field trip cost is non-refundable. In the past, we have refunded the cost to parents of students not attending but it ends up being very costly when you have 5 out of 20 students sick on the day of the field trip and cannot use the pre-paid tickets.
Response: As you know, there are few allowable fees that can be charged to students and their families. The State Board of Education has made it clear that fees are not to be charged except where specifically authorized by law. This understanding, or regulation, is based on the authority in Article IX, Section 5 of the California Constitution. Fees for field trips and excursions may be charged in connection with courses of instruction or school related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities based on Education Code section 35330. But, no pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds or because they refused to participate in fund-raisers dedicated to the field trip.
Stating to parents that they cannot be refunded if their student does not attend is something you will have to ask your legal counsel about, as we believe you may have issues if you begin doing this. Because you cannot tell a student they cannot attend if they don’t have funds, the reverse may apply (if their student ends up not going why they should not get their money back that they didn’t have to pay in the first place?). Be careful if you begin doing this and ask your attorney!!
If a student raises more money than the individual student goal, can he benefit from the extra money?
Question: Our Junior students sent out letters for parents/friends to sponsor them on the Junior College tour trip, with a goal of $200.00. One student collected $85.00 more. The question is: Do those dollars stay in the Junior trip account, or can they be transferred to that specific student’s expenses on an upcoming golf trip? Can it be refunded in cash to that student?
Response: When fundraising occurs for a field trip or any school sponsored activity, there are a couple of basic rules in place. One is that the fundraising must be voluntary. A student cannot be forced to fundraise, and must not be disallowed from attending the activity just because they did not fundraise. Another basic rule is that the fundraising that occurs is to benefit the entire trip/class/group of students, not individual students. So the student who collected $85 more than the goal, does not directly benefit from the amount he collected, even the initial goal of $200. All of the money raised from each student goes into the same account, and all of the juniors attending the trip will benefit from the total amount collected, regardless of whether they fundraised or not.
35330. (a) The governing board of a school district or the county
superintendent of schools of a county may:
(1) Conduct field trips or excursions in connection with courses
of instruction or school-related social, educational, cultural,
athletic, or school band activities to and from places in the state,
any other state, the District of Columbia, or a foreign country for
pupils enrolled in elementary or secondary schools. A field trip or
excursion to and from a foreign country may be permitted to
familiarize students with the language, history, geography, natural
sciences, and other studies relative to the district’s course of
study for pupils.
(2) Engage instructors, supervisors, and other personnel to
contribute their services over and above the normal period for which
they are employed by the district, if necessary, and provide
equipment and supplies for the field trip or excursion.
(3) Transport by use of district equipment, contract to provide
transportation, or arrange transportation by the use of other
equipment, of pupils, instructors, supervisors or other personnel to
and from places in the state, another state, the District of
Columbia, or a foreign country where those excursions and field trips
are being conducted, provided that, when district equipment is used,
the governing board shall secure liability insurance, and if travel
is to and from a foreign country, liability insurance shall be
secured from a carrier licensed to transact insurance business in the
(4) Provide supervision of pupils involved in field trips or
excursions by certificated employees of the district.
(b) (1) No pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or
excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. To this end, the
governing board shall coordinate efforts of community service groups
to supply funds for pupils in need.
(2) No group shall be authorized to take a field trip or excursion
authorized by this section if a pupil who is a member of an
identifiable group will be excluded from participation in the field
trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
(3) No expenses of pupils participating in a field trip or
excursion to other state, the District of Columbia, or a foreign
country authorized by this section shall be paid with school district
funds. Expenses of instructors, chaperones, and other personnel
participating in a field trip or excursion authorized by this section
may be paid from school district funds, and the school district may
pay from school district funds all incidental expenses for the use of
school district equipment during a field trip or excursion
authorized by this section.
(c) (1) The attendance or participation of a pupil in a field trip
or excursion authorized by this section shall be considered
attendance for the purpose of crediting attendance for apportionments
from the State School Fund in the fiscal year. Credited attendance
resulting from a field trip or excursion shall be limited to the
amount of attendance that would have accrued had the pupils not been
engaged in the field trip or excursion.
(2) Credited attendance shall not exceed 10 schooldays except in
the case of pupils participating in a field trip or excursion in
connection with courses of instruction, or school-related educational
activities, and which are not social, cultural, athletic, or school
(d) All persons making the field trip or excursion shall be deemed
to have waived all claims against the district, a charter school, or
the State of California for injury, accident, illness, or death
occurring during or by reason of the field trip or excursion. All
adults taking out-of-state field trips or excursions and all parents
or guardians of pupils taking out-of-state field trips or excursions
shall sign a statement waiving all claims.
No transportation allowances shall be made by the Superintendent
for expenses incurred with respect to field trips or excursions that
have an out-of-state destination. A school district that transports
pupils, teachers, or other employees of the district in schoolbuses
within the state and to destinations within the state, pursuant to
the provisions of this section, shall report to the Superintendent on
forms prescribed by him or her the total mileage of schoolbuses used
in connection with educational excursions. In computing the
allowance to a school district for regular transportation there shall
be deducted from that allowance an amount equal to the depreciation
of schoolbuses used for the transportation in accordance with rules
and regulations adopted by the Superintendent.
4. fees charged for lost or damaged educational materials – school failed to inform students that they may volunteer in lieu of paying money
The school extorts money from students because they cannot graduate if they do not pay the fines and they are not told of their legal right to work volunteer time instead The students want very much to participate and get their diploma which they earned with their hard work in courses so they have paid.
48904. (a) (1) Notwithstanding Section 1714.1 of the
the parent or guardian of any minor whose willful misconduct results
in injury or death to any pupil or any person employed by, or
volunteer services for, a school district or private
school or who willfully cuts, defaces, or otherwise injures in any
way any property, real or personal, belonging to a school district or
private school, or personal property of any school employee, shall
be liable for all damages so caused by the minor. The liability of
the parent or guardian shall not exceed ten thousand dollars
($10,000). The parent or guardian shall also be liable for the
amount of any reward not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000)
pursuant to Section 53069.5 of the Government Code. The parent
or guardian of a minor shall be liable to a school district or
private school for all property belonging to the school district or
private school loaned to the minor and not returned upon demand of an
employee of the district or private school authorized to make the
(2) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall compute an
adjustment of the liability limits prescribed by this subdivision at
a rate equivalent to the percentage change in the Implicit Price
Deflator for State and Local Government Purchases of Goods and
Services for the United States, as published by the United States
Department of Commerce for the 12-month period ending in the third
quarter of the prior fiscal year.
(b) (1) Any school district or private school whose real or
personal property has been willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise
or whose property is loaned to a pupil and willfully not
returned upon demand of an employee of the district or private school
authorized to make the demand may, after affording the pupil his or
her due process rights, withhold the grades, diploma, and transcripts
of the pupil responsible for the damage until the pupil or the pupil’
s parent or guardian has paid for the damages thereto, as provided in
(2) The school district or private school shall notify the parent
or guardian of the pupil in writing of the pupil’s alleged misconduct
before withholding the pupil’s grades, diploma, or transcripts
pursuant to this subdivision. When the minor and parent are unable
to pay for the damages, or to return the property, the school
district or private school shall provide a program of voluntary work
for the minor in lieu of the payment of monetary damages. Upon
completion of the voluntary work, the
grades, diploma, and
transcripts of the pupil shall be released.
I request that the money is returned to the students from whom adults took the money in violation
of the free public education right. Thank you. Sally Smith”
Do you agree with Smith’s allegations?