The American Civil Liberties Union is examining school districts across California to determine if they are illegally charging mandatory fees for such purposes as band equipment and cheerleading squads in violation of a state constitutional guarantee of a free public education.
The investigation includes the San Diego Unified School District, where the ACLU sent a warning letter this month about fees for extracurricular activities—including more than $1,000 for cheerleading and $545 for the band. District spokesman Jack Brandais said the school system was working on eliminating the fees.
The state Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that mandatory fees for extracurricular activities violate the state constitutional guarantee of a free public education, and that a district’s financial hardship cannot be used to justify levying fees. ACLU lawyer David Sapp said complaints about fees have grown with state budget cuts in recent years.
A version of this article appeared in the August 25, 2010 edition of Education Week as ACLU Investigates Legality of Calif. Public School Fees