Count 12- (a) The "Free School Guarantee" of the California Constitution
Under the law- educational activities "curricular" or "extracurricular" offered to students by school districts fall within the "Free School Guarantee" of article IX, section 5 of the California State Constitution. Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 25 Cal.3rd 899, 201Cal.Rptr. 601: 679 P.2d 35 [L.A. No. 31701. Supreme Court of California. April 20, 1984.]
The "Free School Guarantee" of the California Constitution requires the state to provide a "free and equal" education to all children no matter how wealthy or how poor. (See California Constitution Article IX, Section 5, article 1)
1. On Sept. 10, 2010, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that California violated its constitutional duty to provide free and equal education by failing to ensure that public school districts do not charge fees for educational activities. The settling parties agreed that requiring public school students to pay fees or purchase materials for either curricular or extracurricular educational activities is prohibited by the California Constitution. (See California Constitution Article IX, Section 5, Article 1, Section 7(a) & Article IV, Section 16(a); Hartzell v. Connell, 35 Cal. 3d 889 (1984). The ACLU Settlement was codified by Assembly Bill 1575 in 2012.
2. Budget Cuts, Fundraising and Charging Fees Undermine Equity in Public Schools
(a) Fundraising has allowed a greater and greater percentage of CUSD's budget to be spent on salaries, pensions and benefits; with greater and greater reliance on fundraising to pay for core educational programs. CUSD has cut $152 million from it's budget since 2006 and has reduced or eliminated the following programs: Adult Ed, Summer School, PE Grants, Deferred Maintenance, Cal-SAFE, Art and Music block grants, CAHSEE Instruction, PAR, Professional Development Grants, Library Grants. With the elimination of so many programs, parents are being asked to donate more and more to schools for things that should be covered by the $50 billion that taxpayers already give to the state of California for education. The PTA, which is chartered as an "advocacy organization," has been turned into a "fundraising organization", with more and more time spent raising money, and less time advocating on behalf of students.
(b) Separate from the PTA as a fundraiser, parents have been asked to pay fees to participate is sports and other activities. The ACLU law suit recognized that charging "fees" were illegal. A "public" school must provide the same opportunities to each student despite his parent's income or ability to pay.
(c) California law provides:
"writing and drawing paper, pens, inks, blackboards, blackboard erasers, crayons, lead pencils and other necessary supplies for the use of the schools shall be furnished under direction of the governing boards of the school districts" (Education Code section 38118). Based on this section, the Attorney General has concluded that materials and mechanical drawing sets for art classes, cloth for dressmaking classes, wood for carpentry classes, gym suits and shoes for physical education classes, bluebooks necessary for examinations, and paper on which to write a theme or report when such a theme or report is a required assignment must be furnished by school district without charge as necessary supplies. Such supplies appear to be supplies that must be available to students in order to participate in regular classroom work in the particular subjects involved."
(d) The ACLU settlement agreement specifically states that charges may not be levied for the following:
• A deposit in the nature of a guarantee that the district would be reimbursed for loss to the district on account of breakage, damage to, or loss of school property
• An admission charge to an exhibit, fair, theater or similar activity for instruction or extracurricular purposes when a visit to such places is part of the district’s educational program
• A tuition fee or charge as a condition to enrollment in any class or course of instruction, including a fee for attendance in a summer or vacation school, a registration fee, a fee for a catalog of courses, a fee for an examination in a subject, a late registration or program change fee, a fee for the issuance of a diploma or certificate, or a charge for lodging.
• Membership fees in a student body or any student organization as a condition for enrollment or participation in athletic or other curricular or extracurricular activities sponsored by the school (ASB cards may be sold to allow discounts or free entrance to games and social events).
• Instructional materials must be furnished without charge to elementary and high school students. Adults may be assessed a charge for books not to exceed their true cost to the district. Education Code sections 60070 and 60410.
• Fees to enroll and/or participate in activities of career technical student organizations which are part of a career technical class or course or instruction offered for credit. Education Code section 52375.
• Pupils shall not be charged for transportation associated with activities of career technical student organizations which are part of a career technical class or course of instruction offered for credit when those activities are integral to assisting the pupil to achieve the career objectives of the class or course. Education Code section 52373. The exception to this is when the transportation is between the regular full time day schools that they would attend and the regular full time occupational training classes attended by them as provided by a regional occupational center or program. Education Code section 39807.5.
(e) "Donation" or "Coercion?"
There has been growing pressure placed on parents of CUSD students to "donate" and "fundraise" to pay for those things that they perceive to be fundamental to their children's education. Employee compensation is 90+ % of CUSD's Budget and was projected to be over 100% of the budget until an early retirement was implemented; which means, CUSD relies on fundraising, fees and donations to pay for everything but 8% of the District's total expenses. The State of California is passing the increased cost of CalSTRS and CalPERS contributions down to CUSD. These increase costs are projected to be 10% of the District's total general fund budget by 2021, which means that employee compensation will be over 100% of CUSD's total budget for a second time in less than four years.
Donations from parents are paying for supplies, instructional materials, art, music and science programs. Donations are now being used to buy back school librarians, counselors, nurses and instructional aides. Donations are also paying for teacher stipends, teacher release time, and staff development.
In addition to the PTA as a fundraising organization, schools now have foundations and booster clubs all working tirelessly to provide those things that the district is legally obligated to provide for free, under the California Constitution's "Free School Guarantee."
The word "donation" is used by the district as a means of circumventing the true intent of the law. Parents are continuously threatened by increased class sizes and the cancellation of programs as a means of coercing more money from taxpayers and parents to pay for those things that are fundamental to education of their children. The never-ending cry for more money and where to get it was addressed by Chief Justice Byrd in Hartzell v. Connell, 35 Cal. 3d 928 (1984):
"To permit wealth-based inequalities in public education -- one of few institutions with the potential to bring rich and poor together on a nonhierarchical basis -- would be to disrupt the role of education in promoting social cohesion.
To some families, the fees represent a significant expenditure; to others, they are minimal. Hence, it is apparent that the fee program imposes disparate burdens on students according to their families' wealth.
Admittedly, the district is operating within a difficult structure of legal constraints. The electorate has voted to reduce taxation and expenditures, thus making it hard for local districts to maintain their accustomed levels of educational offerings. But local districts cannot alleviate the effects of taxation and expenditure limits by introducing constitutionally impermissible inequalities into public education. If the voters want higher quality education they must find a solution through the political process, either by employing the remaining permissible methods for raising revenues, or by relaxing the system of constraints."
This opinion was written in 1984. Since that time, California legislators have increase spending every year. California schools are suffering because revenues have not been able to keep pace with the spending increases. In fact, districts have had to make deep cuts to their budget as a result of economically difficult times.
(f) Defendants, the State of California, the State Legislators and the State Board of Education have grown much to close to the public employee unions that funded their elections. The result are laws that are written specifically to benefit a select group of individuals which have allowed districts to enter into generous employment contracts without first complying with their constitutional obligation to pay for the basic educational needs of our students. These flawed educational policies have devastated the California public education system. CUSD has seen teachers' salaries increase 63 percent throughout the last 12 years while students have had to endure class size increases, cuts to programs and materials, lost instructional time, and deferred maintenance.
Donations to CUSD are required to be reported to, and to be approved by the Board of Trustees. At each board meeting there is an agenda item to accept donations. The following references the board agenda date and item and the amount of donations that were accepted at that meeting.
January 8, 2014 - Agenda Item #13
Bathgate Elementary Foundation donated $21,000 for Music Teachers Salaries for Bathgate Elementary School.
Moulton Elementary School PTA donated $16,290 for a Reading Intervention Teachers salary for Moulton Elementary School Page 106 Education for Children donated $10,109.26 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Las Flores Elementary School
Education for Children donated $11,560.52 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Las Flores Middle School
Education for Children donated $19,732.37 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Tesoro High School
Moulton Elementary School PTA donated $12,483 for a Classified Instructional Aid’s salary for Moulton Elementary School
San Juan Elementary School PTA donated $8,200 for a Classified Instructional Aid’s salary for San Juan Elementary School
Forester Ranch Education Foundation donated $42,410.00 for *Pali Institute Camp to Truman Benedict Elementary School.
* The Pali Institute is a camp run by a for- profit company engaged in the Entertainment business. The Pali Institute is part of a family of companies under the Pali Entertainment Group umbrella.
Mako Foundation donated $54,000 for Instructional Aids Salaries for Vista Del Mar Elementary School
Education for Children donated $10,284.84 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Wagon Wheel Elementary School
February 12, 2014 Agenda Item #12
City of Aliso Viejo donated $1,000.00 for Certificated Teachers Salaries at Aliso Viejo Middle School
Canyon Vista Elementary School PTA donated $6,750 for Student Supervisors at Canyon Vista Elementary School.
Capistrano Valley High School PTSA donated $2,000 for STAP Stipends
Chaparral Elementary School PTA donated $37,078 for Instructional Materials and Supplies
Ladera Ranch Education Foundation donated $10,000 for Instructional Materials and Supplies
*The Leonard Family Foundation donated $235,000 for Instructional materials and Supplies
*NOTE: This is really a donation for Class Size Reduction per previous Board Agendas. The Leonard Family has generously donated $225,000 per year for many years and until 2012-2013 it was always titled as a donation to reduce class size.
*See: 2012: March 27, 2012 Agenda Item #21 Page 127 –Instructional Materials and Supplies http://capousd.ca.schoolloop.com/file/1229223560406/1218998864154/7912500800103396038.pdf
*See: 2011: March 8, 2011 Agenda Item #7 Page 84 –Class Size Reduction
City of Laguna Niguel $6,500.00 for After School Music Program and Radio Equipment for Niguel Hills Middle School
Ladera Ranch Education Foundation donated $10,134 for Orange County Department of Education Training and Instructional Materials and Supplies for Oso Grande Elementary School.
San Clemente High School PTSA donated $6,000 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to San Clemente High School
Various Vista del Mar Elementary School Parents donated $1,000 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Vista Del Mar Elementary School
Vista del Mar Mako Foundation donated $2,712.96 for Instructional Materials and Supplies to Vista Del Mar Elementary School
February 26, 2014 Agenda Item #10
City of Laguna Niguel donated $5,000 for hourly salaries for After School Programs at Aliso Niguel High School.
Bergeson Foundation donated $22,000 for RSN Aids for 2013-14 for Bergeson Elementary School
City of Laguna Niguel donated $5,000 for hourly salaries for After School Tutorial at Dana Hills High School.
Las Flores Elementary School Boosters donated $14,810 for 5th Grade Outdoor Science School for Las Flores Elementary School.
Oso Grande Elementary School PTA donated $22,000 for Meet the Masters and Discovery Science Lessons for Oso Grande Elementary School.
March 12, 2014 Agenda Item #13
Pacific Life Foundation donated $3,000 for Substitute Teachers Salaries and Technology to Aliso Viejo Middle School .
Las Flores Elementary School Booster Club donated $1,036.20 for outdoor Science School Teacher Stipends to Las Flores Elementary.
Assistance League of Capistrano Valley donated $7,000 for Accelerated Reader Program for Marco Forster
Moulton Elementary School PTA donated $7,169.02 for a Primary Music Program for Moulton Elementary School.
Forster Ranch Education Foundation donated $1,308 for Outdoor Science School Teacher Stipends to Truman Benedict Elementary School.
March 26, 2014 Agenda Item #17
Arroyo Vista Science Boosters donated $7,050 for Outdoor Science School Tuition, Transportation and Teacher Stipends for Arroyo Vista Elementary School
Bathgate Elementary School Foundation donated $39,800 for Outdoor Science School Tuition , Transportation and Teacher Stipends for Bathgate Elementary School
Capistrano Valley High School PTSA donated $10,000 for Teacher Grants for Capistrano Valley High School.
Concordia Elementary School donated $300 for substitute teachers for Concordia Elementary School.
OC Community Foundation donated $8,000 for Teacher release time for training for the CUSD District music program.
City of Aliso Viejo donated $2,500 for staffing of homework club at Don Juan Avila Middle School.
George White Elementary School PTA donated $25,000 for 5th grade Outside Science School at George White Elementary School
Ladera Ranch Foundation donated $4,300 to Save The Music at Ladera Ranch Elementary School.
Laguna Niguel Elementary School Foundation donated $25,000 for an I-Pad Cart for Laguna Niguel Elementary School.
San Clemente High School PTSA donated $3,770 for SchoolLoop 2013-14 for San Clemente High
Pacific Life donated $3,000 for Common Core Standards Professional Development for San Clemente High School.
Tesoro High School PTSA donated $1,298.71 for Teacher Grants for Tesoro High School.
Forster Ranch Education Foundation donated $12,000 for SMART Boards for Kindergarten Class rooms at Truman Benedict.
3. Legal, Moral and Ethical Concerns
In addition to the question of the "legality" of these donations, there are social and moral issues associated with funding education through fundraising. Do we really want to fund core educational programs through donations? From the data, it is obvious that those schools who are better at fundraising get a better education than those schools which aren't able to raise as much money. From a moral perspective, do we really want to have so many organizations collecting money on behalf of a district which does not really have the ability to control the collection and dispersion of these funds?
How are fund-raising organizations able to hire teachers, pay aides and pay for teacher release times? Do they pay workers' comp, report wages and pay employment taxes? How is this pay reflected in the teachers' overall compensation? Is this pay included in the teachers' benefits and pensions?
Should these fund-raising organizations be allowed to pay salaries to foundation staff?
What is the real cost to educate a child when the school site budget is $450,000 and the school generates $350,000 in donations? Is it the ADA being reported by the district, or should it be the ADA reported by the district plus the total donations/number of students in ta particular school?
4. The Continued lack of funding has resulted in a great deal of illegal fundraising and questionable revenue sourcing.
Parents in the District are now fundraising to pay for Teachers Salaries, Class Size Reductions, Programs like Art and Music. PTA and Booster Clubs are paying for Science and Math curriculum. Fundraising now pays for librarians, nurses and instructional aids. A school district cannot function long term hoping that sufficient funds will be raised through donations to pay for basic student services. While wealthy schools have the ability to fundraise for student services, poor schools in the District do not. The result has been a great inequity in the quality of education that poor students and English Language Learners receive within the Capistrano Unified School District itself.
The following is just a sample of donations- full list can be found at the links provided- donations for instructional materials are to numerous to list. CUSD is relying on fundraising to pay for basic student services for which the State of California is constitutionally obligated to pay- this is illegal under California Law AB 1575