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On August 6, San Diego schools superintendent Bill Kowba addressed the press at Lincoln High School regarding a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union. In the letter, the ACLU asks the school district to issue refunds to students for collecting illegal fees. Present was student activist Sally Smith, who admits her mind was elsewhere.

Although Smith was instrumental in raising awareness about the illegal fees charged to students for spirit packs, cheerleading fees, and graphing calculators, she had her own letter to worry about. Smith received a letter from the principal of Serra High School, Michael Jimenez, dated May 19. A letter that she refers to as "the arrest letter."

"Please be forewarned," reads the letter from Jimenez, "in the event you should enter school property in the future and should cause any disturbance or disruption, the district will have no choice but to place you under arrest and refer your case to the authorities."

The letter, which is also addressed to San Diego Unified's chief of police, was sent after principal Jimenez learned that Smith was in the Serra High parking lot in early May, talking to students as they were leaving from a four-hour-long Saturday school session.

According to Smith, schools throughout the district are raising extra money by redefining the State of California's definition of truancy. Section 48260 of California's Education Code defines a truant as any student who misses more than 30 minutes of class without an excuse. But students and parents who Smith has interviewed tell her that teachers are marking students truant if they are five seconds late.

If the student has three or more "truancies" they are placed on the Loss of Privilege list and banned from attending school dances, graduation ceremonies, and supporting their school's sports teams. The only way for a student to get lopped off this list is by attending Saturday school.

"Some students have attended as many as five Saturday school sessions," says Smith. "Somehow these policies always seem to lead to money."

Smith says teachers and staff earn overtime for administering Saturday school and, schools, not the district, generate extra revenue from the state as part of the state's Saturday School Reimbursement Program, which covers costs incurred by schools to allow students to make up unexcused absences.

"This is happening throughout the district," says Smith, who has spent months collecting financial documents from San Diego Unified.

One Saturday School Reimbursement slip submitted to SDUSD's Budget Management and Cost Controls Department from Serra High School for Saturday School on October 31, 2009, totals $2,915.50. The following week, expenses for Saturday school were $1,999.20.

"Teenagers deserve the protection of the law. They deserve fair and equitable treatment. This tardy policy bears serious scrutiny."

Smith requested in May that the San Diego County Office of Education conduct an investigation. She is waiting for a response.

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stevenhart Aug. 11, 2010 @ 9:17 p.m.

Just curious, where did the info for this story come from exactly?

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David Dodd Aug. 11, 2010 @ 9:49 p.m.

"If the student has three or more "truancies" they are placed on the Loss of Privilege list and banned from attending school dances, graduation ceremonies, and supporting their school's sports teams. The only way for a student to get lopped off this list is by attending Saturday school."

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Actually, then, according to 48264.5 of the Education Code, the above punishment for "truancy" or perhaps even "lateness" does not violate the E.C. Students may certainly not attend Saturdays under such circumstances and live with whatever "Loss Of Priveledge" means. I'm not saying that Lincoln High School Administrators aren't being comeplete jerks, but I'm also not saying that Sally Smith isn't being an idiot either.

If Smith wants the California State Constitution changed in order to reflect the ultra-liberal 1984 interpretation of the California State Constitution Section IX, then it must be done by a vote of the people. The ACLU, regardless of the intent, cannot win this. Within the E.C., schools have the authority to do this sort of thing.

If the parents of the students are ticked off, then perhaps the best and most powerful thing they can do (aside from ignoring Sally Smith) is to yank their children from the High School. By hitting the school in the pocketbook (they don't get paid if your kid isn't in school), then the school will have no choice but to acquiesce to the wishes of the parents.

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Dorian Hargrove Aug. 12, 2010 @ 9:45 a.m.

Re: comment #1: Which information are you referring to? Are you referring to Smith's allegations or the financial documents?

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Founder Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:05 a.m.

Perhaps it's time to upgrade the initials of the USD, to the U$D...

Please keep after the San Diego County Office of Education and let US know if they actually conduct an investigation. Being truant for a number of seconds is nothing like not showing up at all! + Perhaps we should start charging teachers for being "truant" with their class's success on standardized testing and then also charge them for their own retraining held on Saturdays (without them being reimbursed for any of their time)...

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stupidflanders19 Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:57 a.m.

If the kids just got to class on time we wouldn't have this problem. Its not that hard...they even ring a bell to tell you to get there.

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David Dodd Aug. 12, 2010 @ 4:03 p.m.

"Perhaps we should start charging teachers for being "truant" with their class's success on standardized testing and then also charge them for their own retraining held on Saturdays (without them being reimbursed for any of their time)..."

This is a healthy direction. Unfortunately, the State of California doles out money according to attendance, not performance. Thus, the questionable behavior of the school. Unfortunately, the activist Smith attacks the problem from the entirely incorrect angle.

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David Dodd Aug. 12, 2010 @ 5:49 p.m.

There are an amazing amount of people that would very much like for illegals living in the U.S. to not get an education and to remain ignorant. Those children grow up to be prized as laborers in fields picking lettuce and tomatoes so that the rich or otherwise well-off can enjoy salads at a reasonable price. While this SHOULD be criminal, and it is in many countries, an alarming number of Americans seem to support that method of procuring labor at under minimum wage in order to advance their own lives.

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David Dodd Aug. 12, 2010 @ 5:52 p.m.

Another interesting note, such people put a State Constitutional Amendment on the ballot many years ago, attempting to keep illegal immigrants from receiving an education that is otherwise entitled to them by section IX of the California State Constitution. The California Supreme Court ruled that to be entirely unconstitutional.

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David Dodd Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:26 p.m.

"Someone on one of these threads praised the education offered in Mexican schools. I would like to know what the advantages of a US education vs a Mexican education are."

The thinking here is that some commenter is going after another one. Of course, I could be completely and ENTIRELY wrong.

But I'm not.

"Certainly one can legally cross the border and legally attend schools here."

That is entirely incorrect. It is not allowed. That is completely illegal according to E.C. Children that LIVE in Mexico are not allowed to attend schools in the U.S.

And Ms. Smith is exactly what's wrong with the U.S. Fighting for an ideal with the wrong weapon. Sort of like someone who stalks people in websites, it serves no purpose other than to entertain the stalker.

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David Dodd Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:45 p.m.

A certain commenter is entirely wrong about the legality of Mexican children (regardless of citizenship) having the ability to legally go to school in the U.S. while living in Mexico.

Period.

The links that will undoubtedly follow from this commentor will be furious and fast.

Those of us with children in Mexico know better.

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Founder Aug. 13, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

But what about this blog subject, "This tardy policy bears serious scrutiny."?

Why should anyone be making money because teachers selectively "dock" student for being a few seconds late to a class?

How wide spread is this activity?

What do parents feel about it?

What do the students say about this practice, fair or not fair?

Is there a Peer Review, where other teachers can agree or disagree?

Why should teachers be financially rewarded by docking today in order to make overtime pay on Saturday...

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David Dodd Aug. 13, 2010 @ 8:05 a.m.

No, Founder my friend, you don't understand, this column/story is all about illegals attending schools in the U.S.! We must not discuss the actual story, that wouldn't be acceptable. Apparently. Please provide inappropriate links at your discretion.

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Founder Aug. 13, 2010 @ 10:16 a.m.

  • I H8 FEE$ -

I have zero interest in Late Fees, it's no matter what size they are, please.

Here's an idea, for someone late to class, give them extra homework to do, to pass,

then all our students will learn, even more still and their Parents will not get another bill.

I know it sounds too easy for me, to say, "that teachers should teach, and not make Students PAY"...

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David Dodd Aug. 13, 2010 @ 5:38 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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David Dodd Aug. 13, 2010 @ 8:45 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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nan shartel Aug. 14, 2010 @ 4:10 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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nan shartel Aug. 15, 2010 @ 8:37 a.m.

peeps this is all off topic

time to fish or cut bait as my dear on Hiatus Cuddles would say...back to school issues

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Founder Aug. 15, 2010 @ 9:04 a.m.

"To Fee or Not to Fee", that is the Question (in 250 words or less):

Should Public Schools be allowed to charge a"late fee" to Students or their Parents, for being late to a class (even with a rational excuse) by making them pay to attend "required" Saturday "Make Up" classes?

EXTRA CREDIT: Include in your answer, Should Teachers that issue these "Late Fees" also get overtime pay for supervising these "required" Saturday "Make Up" classes?

Oh, be sure to submit your exam to me or you can expect to receive a late fee.

Starting now, you have all day, let's hear what, you have to say!

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David Dodd Aug. 15, 2010 @ 9:29 a.m.

Founder, I say the first thing is that people read Article IX of the California State Constitution. Never mind the Rose Bird decision concerning one high school in California in the early '80's, the words remain the same. Free schools, no free education. And I think that if people want that changed, then they vote on it. No one seems to be pushing for that change, but I think that's the proper way to go for those who want schools to supply everything for every class, or for something less costly.

Otherwise, the schools are going to do whatever they want within the education code. In this particular instance, I believe that the school is pushing it, but as I pointed out in my first comment, they aren't necessarily breaking the rules. In order to stop them, go after section IX. California should make section IX whatever it wants it to be in 2010.

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David Dodd Aug. 15, 2010 @ 10:18 a.m.

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_9

"SEC. 5. The Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least six months in every year, after the first year in which a school has been established."

"SEC. 7.5. The State Board of Education shall adopt textbooks for use in grades one through eight throughout the State, to be furnished without cost as provided by statute."

All else is controlled the the Education Codes. Change the State Constitution, by a vote of the people, and then change the Education Codes and such changes can be made without violating the State Constitution. Otherwise, the courts will have the opportunity to toss it right out. And in this economic climate, they probably will.

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David Dodd Aug. 15, 2010 @ 10:33 a.m.

People can choose to completely ignore the State Constitution. Or, they can choose to amend it. Outlaws would ignore it. People who wish to make lasting changes to the school system (and, in effect, teach their children well), should choose to follow the law and amend the State Constitution in order to ensure that the future of their children and grandchildren are protected by it.

The E.C. of any school district can be changed on a whim, not even put to a vote, so long as it doesn't violate the State Constitution.

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nan shartel Aug. 15, 2010 @ 2:11 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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David Dodd Aug. 15, 2010 @ 7:36 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Founder Aug. 16, 2010 @ 6:32 p.m.

So many a blur WOW you said and WOW we were Administrator

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 2:24 p.m.

Reply #63 & #64 Good posting, Parker

While you were researching those facts, I wonder if you noticed if the USD lists the number of student that were NOT registered properly or did not qualify?

I think it would be educational to learn if they publish those figures and what percentage of their total student population it is... because as you said, "$5000 is very tempting to take", so I would expect those stats to be VERY LOW approaching almost Zero...

Something else you might know, does the USD get fined for "not doing their homework" by not checking to see if their students are legally qualified to attend school and if so, what that fine amount is...

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David Dodd Aug. 17, 2010 @ 3:42 p.m.

@ #65: "Something else you might know, does the USD get fined for "not doing their homework" by not checking to see if their students are legally qualified to attend school and if so, what that fine amount is..."

Probably not fined, it would amount to the State fining itself. I do know that in the last decade, Sweetwater and several other disctricts have taken steps to try and verify, including mandating not only residency proof, but that a parent or guardian deliver that proof personally every year. At one time, Sweetwater would employ people to spotcheck residences to ensure compliance, but I doubt if they can afford to do this anymore. California is deep in debt.

Most schoolkids who have parents living in Mexico and attend schools in San Diego also have close relatives living in San Diego, so even if they were somehow stopped and refused entry at the border (which, technically, can't be done so long as they have a legal right to enter the U.S.), they can stay with relatives during the week in San Diego and return to Mexico on the weekends and holidays. Many do this.

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 4:10 p.m.

Reply #67 - #69 I'm happy to say that I agree with both of you and believe that by NOT providing a World Class student education we are just cheap-ing out on our future Leaders of tomorrow!

Now what they are learning is how to fly below the radar instead of how to soar above their own expectations!

I'd like to see someone put a price tag on what that, is costing Society!

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David Dodd Aug. 17, 2010 @ 4:28 p.m.

The problem with educational utopia is that someone has to pay for it. Schools are cutting back to the quick. There simply isn't enough money for schools at the moment. And the districts do have rules about attending within the district where the student lives. I don't think that these rules are unreasonable.

This other side of the argument is every bit as valid as the one where kids just go to school, regardless. It is one thing to say these things - to advocate completely free education, to allow Meicans with proper identification to cross the border and attend U.S. schools. These are noble desires for society. But, as with everything that Government has to offer, these things must be funded.

I also believe there is a legal option for children living in Mexico to legally attend U.S. schools, it costs somewhere between $7,000 and 8,000 per year.

Regarding Americans attending Mexican schools, they certainly can, and similar rules apply in grade school, in that one should show residency. In middle school and prep school, this is not an issue. I have a friend who was born in the U.S. to gringo parents who took him here to Baja to grow up from age four. He went to all Mexican schools through high school.

My eldest son was born in Tijuana and attended Mexican schools through grade 9, when he wished to complete high school in the U.S. because his cousins attended there. It wasn't an issue adjusting - in fact, he found it much easier than schools in Mexico. After he graduated, he joined the U.S. Army for six years and did two tours in Iraq. Upon his return he became a U.S. citizen. He is currently living and working in the U.S. and studying some sort of medical training.

I am guessing that the cost of such investments into the future of the U.S. is sometimes more than paid back.

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Evelyn Aug. 17, 2010 @ 4:29 p.m.

Why are there so many removed comments? What did the comments say?

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 4:40 p.m.

Reply # 73 If a bear commented in the forrest, would the Reader remove it?

BTW: I could tell you but then the Administrator might remove me:-)

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 4:52 p.m.

Reply #71 Do you mean, as in a joke "gag" or do you refer instead, to the sudden reflex action to return something from within, to the outside World or both depending upon your mood and choice of supporting language?

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 5:03 p.m.

Reply #72 Great reply with a happy ending, for your sons Father!

I'm saying that if 95% of all forfeiture and or things confiscated by any branch of the Government were put to educating our Youth of all ages, we would be in a far better place, than we are now, with our current situation of schools begging for money alongside the Military and all the other BIG Government programs!

Imagine if President Obama had a BLACK program (as in TOP SECRET) for education, that was used to fund worthy schools programs Nationwide...

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David Dodd Aug. 17, 2010 @ 5:12 p.m.

"I'm saying that if 95% of all forfeiture and or things confiscated by any branch of the Government were put to educating our Youth of all ages, we would be in a far better place, than we are now, with our current situation of schools begging for money alongside the Military and all the other BIG Government programs!"

Ah, the funding. Well, I've often proposed that the U.S. end the war on drugs, that's costing them billions per year and it isn't working. Legalizing drugs and taxing them, they would still be cheaper to buy than the illegal ones. Put all of that money into schools, educating kids not to do drugs and teach everything else with the rest.

There are lots of creative ideas for funding.

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Founder Aug. 17, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.

Reply #79 I agree, and support what you say but It's great to see someone not just me say it, in yet a different way.

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Founder Aug. 18, 2010 @ 12:04 p.m.

I too thank you

for making it so very clear on how to keep our blogs top tier!

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