As of this month, all California public schools are required to post notices informing students and parents of their rights to clean and safe classrooms and adequate educational materials.
The notices are a product of the class action Williams v. California, filed in 2000 by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups, charging the state with reneging on its constitutional obligation to provide students with the essentials for an education. The state settled the case last fall by pledging to spend $1 billion for educational supplies and facilities. (“With $1 Billion Pledge, Calif. Settles Lawsuit,” Sept. 1, 2004.)
The notices tell parents and students where to find complaint forms about school deficiencies. Valid complaints must be addressed by the local officials within 30 days. People who aren’t satisfied can appeal to their school board, superintendent, or the state. Districts are required to provide public summaries of all complaints—and their resolutions—quarterly.
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2005 edition of Education Week