Activity Fees

Excerpt from the districts’ Planning Guidelines for Co-curricular Activities, 2010-11

Activity Fees:

A commonly held belief is that enrichment opportunities (co-curricular activities) are important to education. Public education faces a two-fold challenge with regards to co-curricular activities: (1) how to provide enrichment opportunities with limited resources and (2) how to create new resources in a manner that is consistent with the laws that govern the delivery of education. Guiding the decision-making process related to co-curricular activities is an underlying premise of a free public school system.

“A pupil enrolled in a school shall not be required to pay any fee, deposit, or other charge not specifically authorized by law.”

California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Article 3, Section 350

No student shall be required to raise a specified amount of money in order to participate in an activity sponsored by a school-related organization. Fees cannot be imposed in exchange for the opportunity to participate in school activities except where specifically permitted by law (Education Code 35330). Public schools cannot charge fees for any elective or compulsory classes. This includes lab fees, paper for required assignments, book fees, workbooks, rental fees, security deposits for locks, lockers, musical instruments, uniforms, or other equipment. The imposition of fees for educational activities or required educational assignments is at odds with the free public school guarantee.

The California Education Code specifically authorizes certain fees. For example, material fees can be charged (e.g., materials for shop class, jewelry class) if the materials are for in-class projects intended to be taken home. Student-produced work cannot be made for sale, even if the student receives a percentage of the proceeds.

Fees for field trips and excursions may be charged in connection with courses of instruction or school-related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities. But, no pupil shall be prevented from taking the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.

Students and parents are encouraged to donate to a school or school program to help defray co-curricular activity costs. But, donations are always voluntary and student participation in a co-curricular activity cannot be mandatory or contingent upon a “donation(s).” School clubs and booster clubs can support co-curricular activities by fundraising for identified needs that benefit all students in the program.

[The pay-for-play issue, currently the subject of an ACLU lawsuit, is based on a 1984 ruling by the California Supreme Court involving the Santa Barbara School District. It is not permissible to post or distribute the names of students/parents who have/have not donated to school programs or pressure parents in any way for donations (e.g., “You will not be called if we have received your donation.”). Furthermore, school fundraising events must be voluntary. It is not permissible to ask for a specific amount or set a due date when requesting a voluntary contribution.]