Governor Signs Budget Reserve Cap Bill, Giving School Districts More Room to Maneuver

October 16, 2017

After three years of advocacy by California education groups, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a Senate bill that alleviates restrictions on school district savings in California. Senate Bill 751 allows districts room to maneuver financially during times of fiscal uncertainty and reduces the chance of staff layoffs and programmatic cuts should the reserve cap be triggered.

“SB 751 provides important relief for every school district in California,” said California School Boards Association (CSBA) CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy on October 11. “Reserves are vital for districts to make budgetary decisions that best fit their local needs and provide the security needed to weather financial storms with reduced adverse impact on students, employees and programs. We thank the Legislature for making this needed adjustment to the reserve cap, which will benefit all of California’s 6.2 million public school students.”...

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Governor Signs Legislation to Prevent School Lunch Shaming

October 16, 2017

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, announced on October 12 that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed his legislation to stop schools from publicly shaming or embarrassing students by either denying them lunch or providing a snack instead because their parents haven’t paid lunch fees.

SB 250 ensures that school officials do not delay or deny food to hungry students as punishment for unpaid school meal fees, and it directs schools to establish a process for notifying their families about unpaid fees and collecting them.

The legislation, which drew national media attention, won overwhelming bipartisan support. The Assembly approved SB 250 on a 77-0 vote, and the Senate approved it 40-0...

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New Law Allows Schools to Donate Leftover Food and Milk to Food Banks and Charities

October 16, 2017

Schools across California can now donate their cafeteria leftovers to local foodbanks and charities. On September 25, Senate Bill 557, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina) and sponsored by the Los Angeles Unified School District, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 557 allows public schools to donate certain food items to food banks, and will ensure that Californians across the state have access to the food that they deserve.

“I am proud the Governor signed SB 557 into law, which gives schools the necessary tools to donate the food they do not use and help local communities suffering from food waste issues,” said Senator Hernandez. “We have millions of Californians who suffer from food insecurity. This is a positive step toward growing a fruitful relationship between schools and local charities in order to protect hungry Californians. Thank you to LAUSD for their continued collaboration to bring this idea into reality.”...

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Legislators Send Governor a “Hefty Slate” of Bills Impacting K-12 Education

October 2, 2017

The California Senate and Assembly have concluded their 2017 business and adjourned for the year, sending a hefty slate of bills affecting K-12 education to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature and holding several others back. The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) prepared the following summary of legislative action:

Gov. Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign or veto all 2017 legislation. Bills that were introduced in 2017 but not sent to Gov. Brown’s desk have the option to be reheard when the Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 3 for the second year of the current two-year legislative session.

Senate Bill 328 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge), the school start time bill which would prohibit all middle and high schools from starting classes before 8:30 a.m., was not sent to Gov. Brown after coming up 15 votes short in the Assembly on Thurs., Sept. 14...

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Legislature Approves Teacher Housing Bill, Which Now Awaits Governor’s Signature

September 18, 2017

Assembly Bill 45, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), is headed for the Governor’s desk. The bill provides financial assistance to school districts seeking to develop rental housing for school employees. AB 45 was approved by the California Senate on September 13 on a 27-12 vote, and was approved by the California Assembly on September 14 on a 56-23 vote.

“Providing housing for school employees is a big need in our state,” said Thurmond.” “This bill will go a long way to help recruit and retain quality teachers in California. I am happy to see that the legislature has shown its commitment to addressing our teacher shortage.”

According to the Learning Policy Institute, 75% of California schools report a shortage of teachers. Teacher housing models have been used in school districts throughout the United States to address this shortage in rural areas in North Carolina and West Virginia, and in urban areas such as Cupertino and Los Angeles...

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Parents Urged to Check Student Vaccination Records as New School Year Begins

August 21, 2017

With students heading back to school, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges parents and guardians to check the vaccine record of their children. Many vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, can easily spread in child care and school settings.

"By getting children all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents can protect their children from serious diseases," said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. "If you haven’t done so already, check with your child's doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs before going back to school."

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for getting sick and spreading diseases to students in their classrooms, and children and adults within their communities...

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Trump Administration Plan to Investigate University Affirmative Action Policies Draws Criticism

August 7, 2017

On August 1, the New York Times, Washington Post and other news organizations reported that the Trump Administration is having Justice Department officials plan a new project to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies they determine discriminate against white applicants.

The Washington Post reported that the project will be based out of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which is now looking for lawyers interested in working on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” according to a person familiar with an internal announcement in the civil rights division.

The news drew quick criticism from a number of education stakeholders, including Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, on affirmative action based in Oakland that supports diversity on college campuses...

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Gun Free School Zones Legislation Approved by State Assembly

June 5, 2017

On May 22, the California State Assembly today approved AB 424 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), which will update California’s Gun Free School Zones law to make schools truly gun free. The measure was approved on a vote of 48-28.

While civilian possession of a gun on a school campus is prohibited, a school district can currently authorize an armed civilian with a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit to enter a school campus. A number of California school districts including Folsom Cordova Unified, Kingsburg Joint Union, Anderson Union, and Kern school districts have begun to issue these authorizations, increasing the number of guns on K-12 school campuses and the risk of an on campus shooting.

AB 424 would eliminate this loophole, reducing the number of guns on school campuses, making school campuses safer and fulfilling the original intent of California’s Gun Free School Zones law...

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Bill Mandating Later School Start for Teenage Students Clears Senate, Moves to Assembly

June 5, 2017

California middle and high school students would get to sleep a bit later each morning under a bill that’s passed the California Senate. SB 338 – a measure that would push their school start times back to at least 8:30 a.m. starting in 2020 – cleared the State Senate on a 23-13 vote on May 30, and now goes to the California Assembly for consideration.

Los Angeles County State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La CaƱada) said his bill offers lawmakers a chance to do more than just talk about doing what’s best for children.

"Here’s an opportunity to do that in a simple, practical way with valid science behind it and results that match that science," Portantino told Capital Public Radio in Sacramento...

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ACLU, California Charter Schools Association Tangle Anew Over Report on Charter Admissions Policies

May 8, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Association of Southern California (together with the group Public Advocates, Inc.) and the Charter Schools Association of California traded strongly worded statements during the last week of April, following the ACLU’s release of a statement criticizing the admissions policies of some California charter schools.

On April 25, the ACLU released a statement that said:

In less than a year since the ACLU of Southern California and Public Advocates Inc. examined most of California’s 1,200 charter schools and found that at least 20% had enrollment policies that excluded or discouraged enrollment by certain students, many schools have adjusted their policies, but the majority of those with offending policies have yet to provide any indication that they have taken corrective measures...

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Trump Signs Executive Order Requiring DeVos to Review, Evaluate Federal Education Policies

May 8, 2017

On April 26, as part of a flurry of executive orders signed as the Trump Administration approached its 100th day in office, the President signed an executive order directing his Secretary of Education to study and evaluate a broad range of existing programs and policies in the U.S. Department of Education.

The Washington Post carried an article by reporter Emma Brown that reported:

President Trump signed an executive order on April 26 that requires Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study whether and how the federal government has overstepped its legal authority in K-12 schools, a move he framed as part of a broader effort to shift power from Washington to states and local communities.

“Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught,” Trump said at the White House. “But we know that local communities do it best and know it best.”...

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Two Bills Requiring Testing of School Water for Lead Moving Through Legislature

April 24, 2017

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) has introduced Assembly Bill 746, which would require the testing of water at schools for lead.

“Lead exposure has real consequences and it’s unacceptable that children and teachers could be poisoned by drinking from the water fountains at school. School districts need to be proactive in making sure their students and staff are drinking safe, lead-free water.” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Protecting the health of our kids is our first priority, and right now, we don’t know if they are truly being protected from lead in their drinking water.”

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher introduced AB 746 to require all public pre-K-12 schools and Community College, CSU and UC campuses test their water for lead contamination. If contaminated water is found, the bill requires the contaminated water sources be shut off immediately, and that staff and parents of students be notified of their potential exposure to lead. In January, administrators at La Mirada Elementary School in the San Ysidro community of San Diego announced that the water being served at the school tested positive for lead...

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Legislator, Optometrists Propose Bill Requiring Comprehensive Eye Exams for California Kids

April 10, 2017

Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) has introduced legislation which would boost the learning potential of California students and promote lifelong health by requiring comprehensive eye exams upon starting school. AB 1110, co-authored by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Senators Andy Vidak (R-Visalia) and Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), comes at a time when one in four children and adolescents have a vision problem that can impede their learning, but current school-based vision tests fail to identify one-third of them.

“Children can’t learn when they can’t see the blackboard clearly,” said Assemblymember Burke. “This bill helps connect children with care to prevent or correct eye and vision problems that are the number one cause of childhood disability. Because insurers are already required to provide no-cost eye exams and glasses to children, this bill is the most significant investment in our children’s health and education.”...

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