DOWNEY - Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) sent a letter to the vice chancellor of academic affairs at California Community Colleges this week, questioning the legality of mandatory instructional material fees.The letter is in response to a series of articles by the San Francisco Chronicle that called into question the legality of requiring students to pay additional fees to access key online course materials. "The serious nature of these allegations warrants immediate action," said Lara. "We must keep access to our community colleges affordable and accessible to all Californians and if these fees are illegal, they must stop immediately and students need to be reimbursed." Lara is moving legislation that would ban the practice of charging students fees for educational materials throughout the public school system in California. AB 165 will put complaint and auditing procedures into place that will help identify, eliminate and prevent the charging of student fees in violation of a student's constitutional right to a free public education, he said. An August 2010 investigation by the ACLU of Southern California uncovered a widespread practice among public high school districts of charging students mandatory fees to participate in educational activities. School districts were forcing students to purchase textbooks, workbooks and assigned novels in order to matriculate in academic courses. In September 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of students alleging the fees violated the California Constitution's free public education guarantee and discriminated against lower-income students by creating a "pay to learn" system.
********** Published: August 18, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 18