ROWLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS REGARDING
STUDENT FEES, DONATIONS AND FUNDRAISING
The Rowland Unified School District appreciates school-community cooperation to support our various programs. This document is provided as a guide for district staff, parents, community members, and auxiliary organizations, who financially support programs, to ensure legal compliance while providing that support. The intent of these guidelines is to emphasize that the question is not whether schools and their communities can raise money to support programs – they can – but how funds can be raised through lawful means.
The California Constitution mandates that public education be provided to students free of charge, unless a charge is specifically authorized by law for a particular program or activity. This constitutional right of free access encompasses all educational activities, whether curricular or extracurricular, and regardless of whether credit is awarded for the educational activity. The right of free access also prohibits mandated purchases of materials, supplies, equipment or uniforms associated with the activity, as well as the payment of security deposits for access, participation, materials or equipment. Finally, a process that allows for a waiver process for an otherwise mandatory fee, charge or deposit does not render it constitutionally permissible. However, legislation and previous court rulings have provided exceptions to allow for permissible fees.
Permissible Mandatory Fees/Charges/Deposits
The following are specific exceptions to the prohibition on fees, charges and deposits at the kindergarten through 12th grade level (some legal provisions related to child care programs and adult education are not listed here). These fees, charges and deposits are legally permissible because they are specifically permitted by law. (Note: This list is based on legal authorizations, but the inclusion of a permissible fee, charge or deposit on this list does not necessarily mean that District schools currently assess the fee, charge or deposit). The following fees, charges, and deposits are permissible:
Donations and Fundraising
School districts, schools, programs and classes can and do seek and accept donations of funds and property, and this practice is permissible as long as it is truly voluntary and in no way a prerequisite to participation in the program or activity. California law does not allow school districts to charge fees to students for curricular and extracurricular activities. However, schools can no longer afford to fund many of the programs and activities. Therefore, schools may request voluntary donations from parents to offset the costs of these programs. Parents are not required to make donations and all students may participate in extracurricular activities regardless of whether their parents make a donation.
As with donations, school districts, schools, programs and classes can and do engage in fundraising activities and programs, and this practice is also permissible as long as the raising of funds is voluntary. A student who is asked to but does not raise funds may not be denied participation in an educational or extracurricular activity. A requirement to raise funds in order to participate, even if there is no mandated amount to be raised, is the same as requiring a fee. The prohibition on the requirement for an individual student to raise money is to be distinguished from a requirement to attend a fundraising event as an element of participation in an activity, in the same way attendance at practices, games, rehearsals or performances are an expected aspect of participation.