Suit alleges California schools charging illegal fees
LOS ANGELES – The American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit to be filed Friday that California’s cash-strapped school districts have been charging student fees that violate the state constitutional guarantee to a free public education.
The civil liberties organization is seeking class-action status for the suit, which accuses dozens of school districts statewide of charging for textbooks, uniforms and extracurricular activities.
Mark Rosenbaum, chief council of the ACLU of Southern California, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit that an investigation by his group found some 50 districts that mention allegedly illegal fees on their websites, but that there are likely more that do so.
California Department of Education spokeswoman Tina Jung declined to directly comment on the claims since her agency is not cited in the suit, but said that the department sympathizes with school districts that feel the need to impose fees.
The suit says one plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, was not able to afford a history book that students were required to purchase and had to borrow one from the school instead.
Since she did not own the book, the student had to use Post-it notes to mark important passages, while her classmates were able to write in the text itself, which put her at an academic disadvantage, Rosenbaum said.