Assembly Member Ricardo Lara
AB 1575 – Constitutional Free Public Education Guarantee
AB 1575 will help identify, prevent, and address the Governor Brown vetoed AB 1575’s predecessor last
charging of student fees in violation of a student’s year, but in his veto message expressed his belief that
constitutional right to a free public education, without local district compliance with the right to a free public
imposing costly new requirements on school districts. education is essential and “those who fail should be held
With this shared goal in mind, and in response to the
An August 2010 investigation by the ACLU of Southern Governor’s stated concerns with the previous bill,
California uncovered a widespread practice among AB 1575 has been amended significantly. The bill now
public school districts of charging students mandatory focuses narrowly on providing guidance to school
fees to participate in educational activities. For example, administrators and allowing parents and students to raise
districts were requiring students to purchase textbooks, their concerns through an existing administrative
workbooks, and assigned novels in order to matriculate complaint process.
in academic courses.
School administrators need to be aware of the free
In September 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf school guarantee and understand how they may
of students alleging the fees violate the California fundraise successfully without infringing on students’
Constitution’s free public education guarantee and constitutional rights. Accordingly, AB 1575 seeks to
discriminate against lower-income students by creating a prevent unconstitutional fees by requiring the State
“pay to learn” system that threatens the integrity of our Department of Education to provide guidance for
state’s public education system. (Doe v. California) superintendents and administrators on a more regular
Earlier this year, the LA County Superior overruled
demurrers filed by the state defendants in Doe v. Calfornia To address instances where students are charged
with respect to the student plaintiffs’ constitutional unconstitutional fees, AB 1575 modifies the uniform
claims and highlighted a 1992 California Supreme Court complaint process currently in place in all schools to
decision that held that the “State itself bears the ultimate allow for local resolution of parent and student concerns
authority and responsibility to ensure that its district- without costly litigation.
based system of common school[s] provides basic
equality of educational opportunity.” In sum, AB 1575 will provide the necessary guidance,
notification, and accountability currently lacking in our
Problem: educational system to identify and address fees for
participation in educational activities. This measure will
Schools are charging students fees to participate in ensure the “free schools” guarantee is applied equally to
educational activities despite the California Constitution all children in our state and remains a meaningful
guaranteeing “free schools” since 1879, resulting in protection in our Constitution.
denial of equal educational opportunity for all children.
A report released by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy,
Education and Access in March 2011 verified and Staff contacts: Catalina Hayes-Bautista, (916) 319-2050
underscored the scope of the problem. According to
their survey, nineteen percent (19%) of high school
principals in California say that their schools have begun
requiring students and families to pay for instructional
materials, which violates the free school guarantee.