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Schools must set up fee complaint systems

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Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:00 am

California school districts must have procedures in place by Friday for students and parents to file complaints if they feel their schools are improperly charging fees for educational activities.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state in 2010 after finding many school districts require students to pay fees to participate in certain activities, and purchase textbooks and other academic materials.

The ACLU agreed to dismiss the lawsuit after the bill mandating districts set up accountability systems was signed.

Brooks Allen, ACLU director of educational advocacy, said the law changes nothing about what fees schools are and are not permitted to charge.

"The only change is that now there is a mechanism to get information to parents about what's legal and what isn't," he said.

Schools must inform parents about the law each year and explain how to submit fee related complaints.

Lodi schools were ready to meet the demands of the new law.

"What we've done is made it emphatic to principals they are not to charge fees. Anything part of the regular class we have to provide free of charge," said Dawn Vetica, assistant superintendent of secondary education. Most fees that might arise would go to high school courses like art, woodshop or P.E. for uniforms.

Some extra funds have been set aside to fulfill the requirement, but Vetica did not have a number available.

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