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On January 11, 43 students, parents, and school staff gathered inside the media center at Junipero Serra High School in Tierrasanta for the monthly meeting of the School Site Council. The council sat in the middle of the room at four conjoined tables. Comprising three students, three parents, four teachers, a school counselor, and Principal Mike Jimenez, the council is charged with overseeing a plan to improve the school in accordance with state- and federally funded programs. All schools in San Diego Unified School District are required to have a school site council (SSC).

On the agenda for the January 11 meeting was an item entitled “SSC Membership.” Written to the right of that was “Voting Item.” No additional information was provided.

The meeting was called to order and the minutes were approved.

Then the “SSC Membership” item was introduced.

“I’d like to make a motion to remove Sally Smith from the council,” said Principal Mike Jimenez.

“I second that motion,” said the school counselor.

Several women in the audience, most wearing headphones to hear a Spanish translation, immediately began to protest. But the council’s chair, Serra High School teacher and swim club administrator Suzie Fore, prohibited comment on the matter.

“Comments were allowed at the beginning of the meeting during public comment,” said Fore.

“This is so vague — ‘school site council membership’ item. Why didn’t you write that you were voting a member off? You need to inform people of the agenda item,” said one person in the audience.

“Es criminal,” uttered another woman from a table near the back of the room.

“The agenda was published 72 hours before the meeting, as stated in our bylaws,” said Fore, before prohibiting further discussion.

Principal Jimenez stated that the council should remove Smith because she was inconsiderate and rude to a student at a previous meeting. At the December meeting, a discussion about student fees had been held. Smith has actively opposed charging fees for curricular and extracurricular activities. One student on the council had voiced her concern that if the school did not collect fees, many extracurricular programs would be discontinued. After the student had finished speaking, Smith let out a loud chuckle. Then the student started to cry.

Principal Jimenez’s motion went to a vote. Fore distributed ballots to the 12 council members. Minutes later, the votes were tallied and Fore announced: “The motion passes 9 to 3 in favor of voting Sally Smith off the school site council.”

Smith grabbed an overstuffed manila folder and walked to a table at the back of the room. She remained at that table, sitting with one of her supporters, until the meeting was adjourned. The only words she uttered occurred when the chairwoman asked if she would care to give a presentation to the council on another agenda item.

“No. Didn’t you just vote me off?” Smith asked in a shrill voice.

Seven days before the council meeting, Smith walked into a small coffee shop in University Heights holding another overstuffed manila folder. A former divorce lawyer, Smith is slender and in her 50s. She wore blue jeans, a red César Chávez T-shirt, and a black cardigan. Her waist-length, dark brown hair was decorated with four brightly colored feathers, which she said represented her Native American ancestry.

The folder she carried was six inches thick, stuffed with examples of what Smith said were illegal fees. In her left hand she held a San Diego Unified School District poster that featured the word “honesty” in large letters. “See this? I’m trying to hold them accountable, that’s all,” Smith said.

She was irritated and upset, not because she knew the council was going to vote her off at the following week’s meeting but because, she said, school administrators would misstate the reason why they wanted her removed. It wasn’t about her laughter at the student during the previous meeting, she contended. It was about her effort to see to it that the school observe the law and stop charging students illegal fees.

Serra High charged fees for uniforms, camps, donations for coaches (to augment salaries), and spirit packs, required for all extracurricular activities. The school also charged fees for curricular activities: graphing calculators, physical education uniforms, and school supplies, plus students were required to purchase Associated Student Body cards.

Since 2006, Smith has spent hundreds of hours collecting examples of what she believes are illegal fees charged by San Diego Unified schools.

“This is a well-established practice,” she said. “It is the mind-set of San Diego Unified School District. Every year parents receive a list of required supplies: calculators, pencils, the list goes on and on. The law is, curricular and extracurricular activities are an integral part of the education experience, and they must be funded by the school district. It’s the law. The argument about whether the district should fund these activities took place 25 years ago.”

At the café, in between bites of her chorizo burrito, Smith leafed through the hundreds of pages of documents from the manila folder. She stopped at a copy of a 1984 lawsuit, Hartzell v. Connell. It is this lawsuit, she said, that guarantees free education at public schools. “The free school guarantee reflects the people’s judgment that a child’s public education is too important to be left to the budgetary circumstances and decisions of individual families,” read the California Supreme Court decision.

“This court holds that all educational activities — curricular or ‘extracurricular’ ” — must be free. Having a fee-waiver policy for needy students is not acceptable, the opinion said. “The stigma that results from recording some students as needy was recognized early in the struggle for free schools.”

Smith then pulled out an August 26, 2009 story from the Fresno Bee. The article reported on a lawsuit that three families filed against the Clovis Unified School District for charging students illegal fees. “This really got me going,” said Smith as she handed over the clipping. However, Smith said she was not interested in filing suit against San Diego Unified. “My goal is to get the school district to follow the law. Education is supposed to be free, and the Clovis lawsuit is just another example why San Diego Unified needs to observe the law. If they aren’t careful, they might find themselves in the same position as Clovis Unified did.”

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monaghan March 17, 2010 @ 1:45 p.m.

Sally Smith is a throwback to an earlier era -- tough-minded, anti-authoritarian, ethnic and uber-egalitarian in spirit. She is also smart and usually right about the issues she cites that need correction by public school officials. She is also admired by many Latino parents who are uniformed about the law or shy about speaking up. Her style is uncompromising and sometimes harsh and, if she were given a report card, it would say that she does not play well with others. With so much trouble on their plates, school administrators hate having to deal with people like Sally Smith, and so her summary ejection from a school site council is no surprise. School leaders need not be her adversaries, however, and I think it's a pity she can't be enlisted as a force for good, rather than just act as a hammer for what's legal.


Twister March 17, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

There's a simple way to resolve this or any other issue. It's called maturity, or discipline. When kids get into a argument on the playground of the "Is!" "Isn't/ain't!" "Is" or "Can!" "Can not/can't!" sort, it is what is called a "teaching moment." A good teacher can show leadership and integrity by asking the kids how close their method is to getting to the truth. Unfortunately, generations of so-called adults have been missing those teaching moments, largely because communities have long been no longer small enough with enough real leadership to step into those moments that are so crucial in laying the foundations of maturity.

It's one thing to "vote" from within a power structure that has no real respect for the community it is supposed to represent; it is quite another to conduct oneself with the common courtesy of hearing someone out and conducting discussion around the merits of the issue at hand, which is the foundation of democracy. To silence dissent is not only undemocratic, it is anti-democratic.

Unfortunately, if a power structure persists long enough in its arrogance, a frustrated dissenter will sometimes register an objection. Such objections should be expected to be vigorous in rough proportion to the level of arrogance displayed by the power structure. This "permits" the power structure to then make a claim, however bogus, that because their arrogance was "calm," that vigor in response gives them the license to claim that the dissenter's behavior is "disrespectful." What is disrespectful is the originating arrogance, and the abrogation of the responsibility of the governmental power structure to facilitate rather than obstruct democracy. Obsequious compliance is what subjects give rulers. Democracy is about majority rule--while protecting the rights of the minority.

It is a festering tragedy that our democracy has permitted fiefdoms to infest the democratic structure that our forefathers and foremothers bequeathed to us as our birthright. Above all--ABOVE ALL in the context of children's education. Mad Queens and Jokers should not be able to cry "Off with her head!" at will. Smith might or might not have been guilty of a breach of etiquette, but she has the right to dissent--and the RESPONSIBILITY to object when that right is suppressed. Law or no law, it is called a "sense of decency."

Real leaders will seize the "teaching moment," just as Smith has. She has given us a learning opportunity.


a2zresource March 17, 2010 @ 4:08 p.m.

There are a number of examples regarding the institutional arrogance of school administrators that I can think of. The two that immediately come to mind:

1) A school administrator convicted of contract fraud or other contract irregularities appealed because the administrator was charged under the Penal Code, not under the weaker variant contained in the Education Code. The appeal was lost; defendants do not have the right to choose what law they are charged under. Further, separating the laws of California into distinct codes is merely a convenience for readers; the people of California speak with one voice through the entirety of the California Codes.

2) When was the last time ANYBODY ever heard of a school principal or community college president having a discussion with the state Adjutant General over the creation of a company or more of the California Cadet Corps? The law is the law, especially when not following the Military & Veterans Code is costing California schools in lost homeland security and other federal emergency preparedness funding opportunities. School board members, stand by on being called out for statutory neglect.


Twister March 17, 2010 @ 5:31 p.m.

All bureaucrats and most politicians believe they are above the law or that they are immune from prosecution. The rest rest assured that they will get off, at worst. "Unpaid" board members and the like positively drool at the opportunity to carry a big stick. They need more than a lawyer (if you will pardon my saying so), they need a parliamentarian. Go git 'em!


CuddleFish March 17, 2010 @ 5:34 p.m.

If I am not mistaken, there is an error in the article re School Site Councils. I believe SSCs are only required at schools who take Title I funding, not at all schools in the District.

As to the action taken by the School Site Council, clearly they rigged the agenda by "revising" it under the 72-hour loophole, instead of properly noticing the action item. Further, whatever discussion took place during open public comments, when an Action item comes up, discussion must be allowed before a vote is taken. The fact that the vote came out as it did without discussion suggests that there were prior discussions between Council members in violation of the Brown Act. All of what happened that night seems clearly improper and in violation of District policy.

I further note that the Principal was the one who took the lead in this action; teachers, regardless of their personal feelings, will often follow a Principal's "suggestion" out of fear of retribution. All of this stinks. I intend to call the Board member under whose jurisdiction this school falls, in this case it is Katherine Nakamura.

Phone: (619) 725-5550 or (619) 725-5522 Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

It has long been appalling to me that school principals get away with murder on their school grounds because case law supports this notion that schools are a special exception to the right of Free Speech; school principals have long abused that privilege to get rid of anybody they choose at will; this creates an atmosphere of fear and stifles criticism and real democratic participation in school issues. Principals consider schools as their personal fiefdom where dissent is not tolerated, and the teachers and parents must fall in line.

The number to reach Mike Jimenez, Principal at Serra High: (858) 496-8342



Twister March 17, 2010 @ 5:56 p.m.

All principals who intimidate staff are creating a hostile work environment, and should be fired before they cost the taxpayers any more money to defend the indefensible. When are taxpayers going to get sick and tired enough of paying for court costs and legal fees for meritless cases? (Sure, this is de rigueur, "business as usual," but that doesn't mean citizens should compound the error by caving in. Smith is being crucified for our sins of omission. It's "High Noon" and "Lonely Are the Brave" all over again. Are we going to just gawk from behind our curtains while she sacrifices herself?)


Dorian Hargrove March 17, 2010 @ 6:16 p.m.

Cuddlefish I catch your drift on the Title I funding. Here's SDUSD's explanation:

"The School Site Council (SSC) is a decision-making group that provides oversight on matters dealing with federally- and state-funded compensatory education programs, including Title I, Title I Parent Involvement, School-based Coordinated Program, School and Library Improvement Block Grant, and Economic Impact Aid/Limited English Proficient programs. The School Site Council is required at all schools in the San Diego Unified School District."

The last sentence threw me off. Thanks for the clarification!



stevericker March 17, 2010 @ 6:31 p.m.

I can see both sides of the argument, but before Sally Smith continues her crusade, I think she should show enough character to personally apologize to the student that she brought to tears.


David Dodd March 17, 2010 @ 7:43 p.m.

Okay, I went to school and had to pay for P.E. uniforms and school supplies and a bunch of other stuff. Did that change after 1979 for the State of California? If it did, enlighten me, I might not have been paying attention. It's not that I don't admire Smith's cause, but some of the stuff she mentions as what should be free, strike me as odd. If there was some kid at our school so poor they couldn't pay for it, there were programs that assured they got what they needed.

Smith's desires, however wonderfully well-meant that they are, don't seem either realistic nor historically relevant. And yes, the council tossed her in a stupid and political manner, that hasn't changed since 1979, probably won't.

Some of the "donations" requests (requirements?) are a little outrageous, though (coaches salary? WTF?), and it should be illegal to request it, much less require it. And I learned how to graph functions with some good ol' fashioned paper and pencil, but if they would've offered a $100 calculator with graphing in those days to accomplish it, I would have saved my own money and bought one. But I don't agree with any district policy requesting (practically requiring) donations, if the school can't afford band uniforms, then don't buy them. The University of Stanford, last time I checked, is a pretty damned good band, and they often don't bother with uniforms during a half-time show. Or watch "The Music Man" if you don't believe me when I say that a uniform never helped a kid learn to play a horn.

You did a good job with this, Dorian. I think that people closely involved with this on both sides of the gray area should rationally sit down and try to define things. They should invite Smith into that process, but she should also be rational and realistic. California is broke as a joke, so either programs will have to be dropped or more clever ways of obtaining funding for some activities will need to be found, without parents paying those activities out of pocket.


Twister March 17, 2010 @ 8:28 p.m.

Either we're all in this together or we're not. Kids lucky enough to have parents with enough money to pay and pay and pay will be fine. Kids not so lucky will effectively be outcasts. As outcasts, they will form their own groups of kids, some frugal and responsible, some wanting what the "lucky" ones have bad enough to get it any way they can. Sound like a recipe for a healthy society?


David Dodd March 17, 2010 @ 8:58 p.m.

"Sound like a recipe for a healthy society?"

Well no, Twister, it sounds a little like Marx. My parents were relatively poor people, we never had money to throw around. But they managed to buy me P.E. clothes and school supplies when I needed them. I even got lunch money. And there were a few kids that got those items either handed down used or they received the big blue-painted pencils out of the pencil box. They weren't otherwise treated any differently than we were, and we didn't trat them any differently that we treated a rich kid.

We had band uniforms, they were old, smelly, musty things. The band was low on the stick for receiving funds. We performed fund raisers all of the time for new instruments. We got by.

Some of the outrageous things, like someone's salary or a $100 calculator, are out of line, as is trying to take funding for it straight out of the pockets of parents, that's just wrong. But to have everything free? All or nothing? To interpret "free schooling" like something out of plan number ten from the ten point plan from the communist manifesto? Not my idea of a healthy society.


jenibur3 March 17, 2010 @ 9:37 p.m.

My two cents..... Why should my child not have an opportunity to excel at math with a special calculator, or play the sport he loves. I am fotunate enough to be able to provide him with those items. Why then should he suffer for having money? Why should I and others like me carry the entire burden for "donating". We should all contribute. These are OUR kids, if all you can contribute is a buck well then thats what you give. But give something to be a contributing member.
Once all opportunities for fundraising, fees, dues, donations whatever you call then are gone what is left. A football and base ball team, because that is all the school can afford to fund. How many talented kids may lose out on opportunities for scholarships? How many kids were not runnning the streets tonight because of some type of practice? What happens when it is all gone? I am not debating the law I get it....I just dont agree. We as parents have to assume some responsibility for our kids wants.


SurfPuppy619 March 17, 2010 @ 10:44 p.m.

Wow=there are certainly two very good sides/arguments to this story.

I have to wonder though, why would Smith laugh at a student who made a comment -that is pretty reprehensible conduct from an adult-if it is true.


David Dodd March 17, 2010 @ 11:04 p.m.

Yeah, I wondered the same thing, SP. Not being there, couldn't say, but I must admit that it certainly did seem like a opportunistic reason to toss her off of the council, and weird behavior on Smith's part.

And there are two good sides, this is great stuff. I've read jenibur's comment a few times, and some of it is effectively supporting Smith's argument, even though the comment is ostensibly against it. In other word's, "What about my child?" could be the core issue here.

I think if Smith was less emotional about this issue, and more willing to seek compromise (which could eventually define those gray areas), progress could actually be made.

Here in Mexico, education is free, through grade twelve. Education is defined as the government supplying the building, the teachers, and the books. Us parents pay for everything else, from uniforms to cleaning supplies (we do our own maintenance), to a host of other necessities to run a classroom and teach the kids. Extracurricular activities - what little there are - are funded by the parents of the children involved. And there is a voluntary inscription fee which is mandatory. There is also a lot of volunteerism in schools here to take up the slack.

My understanding of Cuba, is that education is free, completely, absolutely. The books are substandard, as are facilities, but their literacy rate is awesome. And they're Goddamned communists, but this is what happens. It's free, but since there isn't a lot of money there, well, I'm guessing that there aren't many marching bands. They have more doctors than anywhere in the World per capita, but the machinery still uses vacuum tubes.

The U.S. really doesn't need either extreme, but to find that middle ground isn't easy. But I think people need to find it anyway.


CuddleFish March 18, 2010 @ 7:51 a.m.

Most of the people who are commenting here are people who have not been involved in education politics in the San Diego Unified District as long as I have, and really don't understand the subtext. And there is a lot of subtext which would take far too long to explain here. Commenters who are saying I had to pay for my band uniform, why shouldn't they, should check themselves and think a little deeper on it. It's not about the uniforms, that is reductive and dismissive. We are on the brink, folks. How people are treated is what will determine whether the coming revolution is noisy or quiet.


SurfPuppy619 March 18, 2010 @ 8:19 a.m.

My understanding of Cuba, is that education is free, completely, absolutely. The books are substandard, as are facilities, but their literacy rate is awesome. And they're Goddamned communists, but this is what happens

There are really only two positives about Cuba-the literacy rate and their healthcare system-both as good as any in the world.

Now, having said that the country is dirt poor, substandard living throughout and a leader who should do more to bring the country into the modern age.

Could you imagine how far Cuba could come if they worked out some sort of deal with the US to lift the travel ban? That country would have tourist revenue flowing like water flows down the Colorado river.

I woudl love to visit Cuba, and hopefully I will be able to before I die (legally).


Twister March 18, 2010 @ 12:36 p.m.

"Opinions" always will vary. The trick is to resolve differences. That involves knowing the details, but not in using details to divert attention from them. Crisp dichotomies may be a useful entry point and end point, but the in-between stuff requires a willingness to consult with each other honestly rather than simply using power and outrage to get our way. And, if we are wise, we might want to consider that there could be a point of resolution that resolves the dispute equitably.


David Dodd March 18, 2010 @ 3:55 p.m.

"And, if we are wise, we might want to consider that there could be a point of resolution that resolves the dispute equitably."

I think that's the only way the kids are going to come out on top of this. The other thing that occurs to me is that my son graduated from Montgomery High about six years ago, which obviously is Sweetwater, but we never had issues. Assuming that they don't have this problem, I wonder what they are doing differently. Or further, if the San Diego Unified School District should explore any successful models and adopt one. This one, obviously, isn't working very well.


MrCali March 19, 2010 @ 10:04 a.m.

"Another example was a math course syllabus from the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Students were required to purchase notebook paper, a three-ring binder, and a $100 TI-84 graphing calculator." Really? Seriously? School can't expect families to pay for notebook paper or binders?

The law is the law, but this is going to have unintended consequences. Take Title 9 for example. Title 9 ensures equal spending for male and female sports at the high school and collegiate level. The unintended consequence of this was that rather than spend more on female sports, universities slashed spending on male sports down to match.

Schools do not have the money to finance all the various sports that the students and communities want so the real consequence of this will the elimination of most if not all extracurricular activities. The only survivors will be those sports that have enough community support to be self-sufficient. So rather than having to find $100.00 to play a school sport these families will be left with only one option for their children to be involved in sports; paying thousands of dollars to enroll them in club sports.


Twister March 19, 2010 @ 6:11 p.m.

Granted, this unconstitutional violation has been "honored" in the breach for so long that it is difficult to recognize the principle. But intellectual honesty requires going to the sources and working into cherry-picked examples from there, not the other way around.

The "practical" implications are serious to the business-as-usual syndrome of the well-enough-heeled, but those special pleadings do not counter the fact that the country has been slipping down the slippery slope into a kind of mass feudal elitism for some time. Strict Constitutional constructionists are thus hoisted upon their own petards. I hope Smith fully realizes the broadest and deepest implications of the can with which she is enticing the worms from the woodwork. The bottom-line is that inconsistencies are the termites in the framework of law.

Law, of course, is what we do these days when we want to make special pleas for privilege. The reality is that if a K-12 education is to be free in some sense, it must be free in every sense. The wealthy cannot be allowed to provide their precious little darlings advantages WITHIN the scope of the PUBLIC schools that other children are denied.

Certainly Smith is tilting at this windbag machine. I, for one, would be honored to be her Sancho. I may just live in her neighborhood, and I'm gonna keep an eye out for her. But why don't we all show her a little good will? Certainly any lapse of deportment (if any) that she might have slipped into temporarily does not justify the denial of her rights as a citizen. If she is some kind of nut-case that can't control herself, that will soon be self evident. But a Kangaroo Court in a newspaper comment section is no place to jump to conclusions.


David Dodd March 19, 2010 @ 7:55 p.m.

"Granted, this unconstitutional violation has been "honored" in the breach for so long that it is difficult to recognize the principle."

The California Constitution does not address free education, it simply provides for free schools and funding for teachers and grants dollar amounts per student, and so on.


Nowhere in here does it say that anyone has a right to free education. Free schools, that's it. There is no unconstitutional violation.


Twister March 19, 2010 @ 10:16 p.m.

Response to #21

Let's suppose that there is no legal basis for K-12 education without charging each family for each student. On the basis of the limitations as you interpret them, which of them would you relinquish and which additional "grants" would you make? That is, where SHOULD the line be drawn? Please state the PRINCIPLE upon which you would base ANY sort of free education at all. Forget the statutes entirely, and concentrate on your own ideas about what a society owes and does not owe its children with respect to education provided by the society and not the individual parents and children.


David Dodd March 19, 2010 @ 11:43 p.m.

Response to #22

"Let's suppose that there is no legal basis for K-12 education without charging each family for each student. On the basis of the limitations as you interpret them, which of them would you relinquish and which additional "grants" would you make?"

There is a legal "basis" for it, it's free "schools", and that includes mandatory free textbooks for kids enrolled K-8. Schools are additionally funded, and using State guidelines, school districts augment their number of teachers, teaching materials, and so on. They do it as they see fit, following State guidelines.

Smith's contention is that any fees charged to parents for such "augmented" activities are illegal because schools are funded to provide materials for education. I think that she is partially correct, where the activities are considered mandatory for education. Schools are intended for education, and no parent should have to pay for that beyond their taxed income or property. However: Technically, high schools don't even have to provide free textbooks under the California Constitution. Of course, they do supply books, because that is intrinsic to educating students, and they will certainly cover that under their funding because it's the most important thing. Hopefully, after that, it should go in order of the most important items to the least. In a nut shell, this is how I interpret the State Constitution, and I would guess this is how most see things.

It would be irrelevant to go into my own ideas about education, the discussion concerns what people have to work with under their own system. I will offer this, however; if tax money didn't go toward free schools, a lot of these problems wouldn't exist because when people pay directly for something they become a lot more concerned about what their money is being spent on. When people pay taxes, they don't seem to care about misappropriations and funding, they just bang on the table and demand that things be fixed because, dammit, they pay taxes.

I simply become concerned at the notion there is a belief that students have the right to free education, because it isn't true. They do have the right to free schools, and the schools are funded for much more than the minimal constitutional requirements. After that, getting an education is up to the students and the parents.


sonoraquerida March 20, 2010 @ 8:50 a.m.

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 making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. Education Code Section 35330

The San Diego Unified Procedure states 2. Exclusion of Students From Participation Because of Lack of Funds Prohibited (Education Code Section 35330). No student shall be prevented from making a field trip because of lack of sufficient funds. District funds can be used for local educational field trips. For noneducational trips, the district or school shall coordinate efforts of community service groups to supply funds for students in need of them. No identifiable group (e.g., chorus, band, and Spanish club) shall be authorized to take a field trip if any student who is a member of that group will be excluded from participation because of lack of sufficient funds.

Using community groups efforts does not mean that parent groups such as boosters are entitled to parents' personal information to set up payments plans or collect on bounced checks. In San Diego Unified, the Principal performs all of the following (4) Notifies parents/guardians of their right to opt their child out of participation in any fund-raising event. Read this FCMAT informational.



sonoraquerida March 20, 2010 @ 8:52 a.m.

Volume 30 For Publication Date: March 26, 2010 No. 6 Ask SSC . . . What About the Students Who Didn’t Help with the Fundraising Efforts for the Field Trip? Q. Every year near the end of the school year, our school’s 8thgrade class takes a trip to a theme park. The trip is optional for the students, and all fees are absorbed by the money generated through fundraising by the interested students. If a student wants to attend, but did not participate in the fundraising, can the district stop that student from attending the trip?

A. Education Code Section 35330(b)(1) is the provision of law that states the following:

                    No pupil shall be prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. To this end, the governing board shall coordinate efforts of community service groups to supply funds for pupils in need.

                      (2) No group shall be authorized to take a field trip or excursion authorized by this section if a pupil who is a member of an identifiable group will be excluded from participation in the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.

       The Code views the students who did not take part in the fundraising efforts, regardless of the circumstances, to be a member of the identifiable group.

       The 2009 edition of the Associated Student Body Accounting Manual & Desk Reference by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) comments further on the provision of law by adding “. . . nor may a student be left behind for failing or refusing to participate in fund-raisers.” FCMAT’s manual is considered by the school finance community to be a solid source of good business practices and sound, practical advice for the complex environment of student body operations.

       This implies that districts should not stop the student from participating in the trip to the theme park. Furthermore, the school has an obligation to find alternative sources to support the student in order for him or her to go on the field tr

SanDiegoTeacher March 20, 2010 @ 9:05 a.m.

My neighborhood's Serra High School clearly discriminates against poor schoolchildren, and violates the California Supreme Court law since the 1984 case of Hartzell v. Connell. The Principal, counselor, and teacher/swim team coach arrogantly refuse to follow the law. The Serra Politburo conspires to evade the Brown Act open meeting law, with their agenda to eliminate any voice of reason urging that poor students be allowed equal access to academic and extra-curricular activities.


sonoraquerida March 20, 2010 @ 10:08 a.m.

Guidelines for District Staff and Parents Regarding Student Fees, Donations and Fundraising III. Exceptions: 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: 1.Charges for optional attendance as a spectator at a school or District sponsored activity. (Hartzell, 35 Cal.3d 899, 911, fn. 14). 4.Fees for field trips and excursions in connection with courses of instruction or school related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities, as long as no student is prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds. (Education Code § 35330(b)). 7.Charges for standardized physical education attire of a particular color and design, but the school may not mandate that the attire be purchased from the school and no physical education grade of a student may be impacted based on the failure to wear standardized apparel “arising from circumstances beyond the control” of the student. (Education Code § 49066). 9.Charges for the rental or lease of personal property needed for District purposes, such as caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies (Education Code § 38119). 10.Fees for school camp programs, so long as no student is denied the opportunity to participate because of nonpayment of the fee. (Education Code § 35335).


CuddleFish March 20, 2010 @ 11:05 a.m.

I placed a call into Katherine Nakamura regarding this issue, and I also called the principal, so far neither have returned my call. Really unacceptable and unprofessional. IMO.


jerome March 20, 2010 @ 12:32 p.m.

manipulation and ultimatums, go fishsy....


SurfPuppy619 March 20, 2010 @ 3:41 p.m.

The wealthy cannot be allowed to provide their precious little darlings advantages WITHIN the scope of the PUBLIC schools that other children are denied.

But a Kangaroo Court in a newspaper comment section is no place to jump to conclusions.

By Twister

Wealthy communities provide better facilities and tools all the time in public education.

I grew up in a very upper class area where the local K-6 schools would hold "fund raisers" every year, at the beginning of the school year. The parents would donate various items, an auction was held, items auctioned off, massive amounts of were money raised-the kids at said school were able to use said money to enrich their educational experience.

Now-it that fair? Poor districts do not have those kinds of resources. That is common though.

BTW Twister-who you calling a kangaroo :)


David Dodd March 20, 2010 @ 7:57 p.m.

"Poor districts do not have those kinds of resources."

And test scores reflect that, on the whole. However, if the playing field is leveled by taking that advantage away from the wealthy, then in effect the wealthy are being discriminated against simply because of their economic status. And besides, it's, you know, a pretty damned Marxist thing to do.

As sonoraquerida points out, the education code provides for what parents might be expected to pay for. Certainly, improvements could be made to that code, but that's not what Smith seems to be all about. I'm currently enjoying reading the justices decisions in Hatzell v. Connell, you may join me if you wish:


Of course, every single school district in the State of California can be taken to court based on this decision. But note that the case only concerns extracurricular activities, and the direct charging of fees for their participation, and the fact that student participation counted toward graduation in the form of credits. The scope of this decision does not include many of the assertions made by Smith.

Of note: The Chief Justice was Rose Bird, the only CJ to ever be removed from office in the State of California by vote of the people, by a 2-1 margin (Bird also overturned all 64 capitol cases appealed to the court while she was CJ). The opinions of all justices (except, perhaps that of Bird), were very cautious when linking free schools with free education.

The constitutional interpretation was made by presuming that the very definition of "schools" would be an institution to further the education of the student. The key to this decision is where student participation counts toward graduation in the form of credits.

Back to Smith, her opinion is that this case is a global interpretation that everything in schools should be free. Yet, the schools are ostensibly following the education codes. Why attack the council, why not go after the codes?


Twister March 20, 2010 @ 9:02 p.m.

The Law is the law, but the law is not final. All kinds of laws are ignored and perverted in practice. Laws are to be observed while they are in place, and changed when they don't work. The central issue here is: What is best for the kids? If this discussion is going to go anywhere beyond playpen politics it is going to have to involve honest answers to such questions from the participants.

  1. Either the law as it stands is the best possible thing for the kids or it's not. Which is it?

  2. Either any given case of administration of the law is in line with the law or it isn't. Which is it?

  3. Any given act that affects the kids is either good for them or it isn't. They each need to be enumerated clearly and considered in the light of the applicable law and if found consistent with it, the act can continue. If it's not, it should not continue--period. That's the way a system of laws is required to work. If any given act is inconsistent with the law as it is illegal--period.

  4. If We, the People, find that we do not like the law as it is, it is our responsibility to change it--WITHIN the law. If any school system employee does not agree with the law, they do not have the right to "get around it."

  5. Each of Smith's points needs to be evaluated on the basis of consistency with the law and its intent.

  6. Each act of each school official that is legitimately challenged with respect to the law should be answered administratively without resort to the courts. Officials and others who "get around" the law, including ignoring legitimate challenges, are guilty of malfeasance in office, and should be dealt with accordingly. Period.


SurfPuppy619 March 21, 2010 @ 9:58 p.m.

Of note: The Chief Justice was Rose Bird, the only CJ to ever be removed from office in the State of California by vote of the people, by a 2-1 margin (Bird also overturned all 64 capitol cases appealed to the court while she was CJ).

Was this the same CJ Rose Bird who said "rape" was not a violent crime in order to over turn a death penalty case before her???? Yes it was.

She had no business sitting on the CA Supreme Court-NONE. Brown appointed her, she had no experience previous as a judge at all and then boom, Chief Justice of the most important state court in the union. Her removal, as well as her two cronies, was unprecedented and that is saying something from this liberal state.


David Dodd March 21, 2010 @ 10:48 p.m.

Yep, SP, that's the one. Part of the reason I noted this is because, regardless of how liberal California is, and regardless of the fact that I actually agreed with Hartzell v. Connell (for the reasons I stated), there is absolutely no way that today's CA Supreme Court is guaranteed to uphold similar decisions. Especially in light of today's current economic mess in the State of California.


David Dodd March 21, 2010 @ 10:56 p.m.

Another thing that bothers me greatly is Smith's last statement:

"It’s the law. You can’t charge a fee to the students, because there’s a constitutional right to free education. If schools can’t afford it, then they shouldn’t offer it. It’s as simple as that."

No, it isn't the law. The law is according to the education code, that's what the schools have to follow. And, no, the constitution doesn't guarantee free education, it guarantees free schools. CA Supreme Court can decide, case by case, whether the law violates the constitution, but that's about it, and the schools follow the law presuming the laws are constitutional. And the schools have never been able to "afford it" because the idiots elected into government keep taking money from what should be used for school funding and spending it on other crap.


Psycholizard March 21, 2010 @ 11:45 p.m.

to 33

Surfpup this was not a liberal state when Rose Bird was tossed. We are now thanks to Republican incompetence. Rose bird was victim of a nasty pogrom that tossed the rest of Jerry Brown's picks as well. The television ad reason was their failure to kill anyone under the Burger court new death penalty rules. The real reason was liberal employment and environmental rulings that had wide influence over the rest of the nation. They were well reasoned.


David Dodd March 22, 2010 @ 12:21 a.m.

to #36:

"Surfpup this was not a liberal state when Rose Bird was tossed."


The Republicans lost seats in that election and the Democrats in California in both the State house and State senate kept their overwhelming majority. Also notable: This was the same year in which Republicans lost the majority in the U.S. Senate. Dude, it's obvious that you have an unusual hatred of Republicans, but really, it's sort of rude to make stupid statements without doing some research first. Center your ideology, at least in public.


About one hundred more links are available if you don't like this one.


jerome March 22, 2010 @ 11:05 a.m.

ya no its da peeps who have no kids that are behind this gossip hulabaloo,confused issue

come on peeps get with it $ rules

fire at em em, oops fire em.......... they are easy to identify


SurfPuppy619 March 22, 2010 @ 12:04 p.m.

Surfpup this was not a liberal state when Rose Bird was tossed. We are now thanks to Republican incompetence. Rose bird was victim of a nasty pogrom that tossed the rest of Jerry Brown's picks as well.

With all due repsect Lizard- CA is, and has been, a moderate to liberal state-it has never been conservative.

The midwest is where you need to look for conservative states.

Rose Bird, Reynoso and Grodin were all tossed out because they put their personal views ahead of the law they were sworn to uphold. That was an outrage. I am no die hard sipporter of the death penalty-but it is the law of the land.

When Bird overturned a death penalty case by saying rape was not a violent crime, that was the last straw for me.

No matter what your personal views are, you must follow the law. Try to change the law if you do not agree with it-but you do not get to implement your own personal views in place of law-and that is what Bird et al was doing.


CuddleFish March 23, 2010 @ 7:59 a.m.

Rose Bird was a great jurist. She interpreted the law correctly in her opinions. Just because you didn't like her position on a certain case doesn't mean she wasn't correct, SurfPuppy.

Jerry Brown was a great governor, the best in my lifetime. I wouldn't vote for him again, I don't think, but that doesn't minimize his accomplishments.


SurfPuppy619 March 23, 2010 @ 5:54 p.m.

Rose Bird was a great jurist. She interpreted the law correctly in her opinions. Just because you didn't like her position on a certain case doesn't mean she wasn't correct, SurfPuppy.

Please, you CANNOT be serious CF......again, she was tossed out by a 2-1 margin, that says it all. Not even close

BTW-what is your opinion on Bird's cliam that rape is not a violent crime?


SurfPuppy619 March 23, 2010 @ 7:11 p.m.

CF, you're like my Mom.

My Mom LOVED Rose Bird-but only b/c she was female. No other logical reason.

Couldn't change her mind no matter how much hard factual evidence you threw at her-she had her mind made up and was convinced Rose Bird was being attacked b/c she was a female-not on her record.


NLEE March 24, 2010 @ 11:40 a.m.

I would just would like to point out that the article claims no one knew what the agenda item was about about and therefore did not provide proper notice, but then the article continues with: "Seven days before the council meeting… She was irritated and upset, not because she knew the council was going to vote her off at the following week’s meeting but because, she said, school administrators would misstate the reason why they wanted her removed. It wasn’t about her laughter at the student during the previous meeting, she contended. It was about her effort to see to it that the school observe the law and stop charging students illegal fees." I don't understand how someone can claim that their intentions are good when they try to humiliate a child in front of a group of people to the point of crying. And, since she did know what the agenda item was about, why didn't she start the meeting with an apology to the student? As far as I can tell from the article, she never has apologized to the student. If my child made the effort and the courage to speak up at a SSC, I would want to know that they were safe from this type of behavior. What exactly did she teach that student? Isn't this a form of bullying the student? Is she bullying the school and the district?

And could she have picked a worse time to take this position with the budget cuts the districts and schools are facing? Are we really better off having schools without althetic and music departments? I don't think so -- I think my kids benefit from these activities whether they play a sport or not. It builds a sense of school spirit, which keeps the students engaged, which keeps them in school.


jassatero March 24, 2010 @ 12:19 p.m.

43....you made some good points. The majority, 9 out of 12 members, saw fit to vote her off the SSC. There does seem to be a story here but without The Reader interviewing people from both sides of the spectrum this article seems incomplete.

Is there some child who was denied a sport or something? Usually those who pay carry those who can't (or choose not to)...so what is the problem? Griping about a $100 donation for swim...which covers the cost of suit (which they keep) and a portion of their banquet sounds like a bargain! I wish more schools charged so little!


Dorian Hargrove March 24, 2010 @ 1 p.m.

Jassatero, the article is not about the SSC voting Smith off of the council, but instead about Smith's fight against student fees.

And NLEE, Smith knew she would be voted off from emails that Principal Jimenez had sent prior to the meeting. The issue for Smith, and others, is that the agenda item was vague.

Now, if both of you disagree with Smith and believe students should pay fees for extra-curricular activities and for school supplies then that is your opinion.


jassatero March 25, 2010 @ 6:21 p.m.

Yes, I am entitled to my opinion just like Sally. The district can ill afford the expense of sports and music which is why parents donate money - to keep them going. Colleges look for well rounded students, those who have played sports, performed in their school bands, etc. Sally certainly has her opinions, I see them often. What I don't see is balanced reporting. To capture the complete story you need to interview more than one person.


Dorian Hargrove March 25, 2010 @ 7:14 p.m.

Jassatero, I did interview other people: Brandais from SDUSD, as well as a teacher to get her opinion. Did you not "see" those interviews? Seems pretty balanced to me. Thanks.


MARION March 29, 2010 @ 12:16 a.m.

We get it!! We get it ALREADY!!! The people of Serra High School and Tierrasanta understand that 'charging' kids and families is illegal! Asking for donations IS NOT ILLEGAL as long as they are strictly donations...no strings attached. Parents who donate want to do it of their own free will!! There are eduators, parents, administrators and students who all understand this law. Sally...go away! Stop trying to make yourself look high and mighty by filing over 30 grievances over 4 months. So what! Nobody cares! Stop harassing the staff! The law is being complied with and the kids and families are happy. They are fine. We are all fine. Find another outlet for your compulsive behaviors. It's amazing that ANY PAPER OR MEDIA ENTITY EVEN WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU ANY MORE. STOP ALREADY!!!


David Dodd March 29, 2010 @ 1:43 a.m.

Come on Marion, don't beat around the bush, open up and tell us what you REALLY think ;)


SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 7:56 a.m.

Asking for donations IS NOT ILLEGAL as long as they are strictly donations...no strings attached. Parents who donate want to do it of their own free will!! There are eduators, parents, administrators and students who all understand this law.


1) Asking for "dontions" could very well be ILLEGAL, depending on the time, place and manner it is done.

2) How would YOU know what OTHER parents do of their OWN FREE WILL??? Did you interview them all?? Do you perosnally know them all????? Or can you just read everyone's mind?

3) You don't understand the "law", so you claiming the rest of the world does is sort of a joke.

Look, if you don't agree with someone elses view that is fine, but going around making unsupported attacks based on ridiculous and unsupported statements is bottom of the barrel.


David Dodd March 29, 2010 @ 10:47 a.m.

"Look, if you don't agree with someone elses view that is fine, but going around making unsupported attacks based on ridiculous and unsupported statements is bottom of the barrel."

I don't know, SP, reading comments 24, 25, & 27, Marion has a point. The SC of CA ruled based on credits being given for the course in question; albeit some of the opinions were quite immature (exposing a court that was probably not fit to judge), the ruling actually makes sense. However, the rest of the law is still intact, that ruling did not overturn anything else. The schools have no choice and every obligation to conduct themselves accordingly.


SurfPuppy619 March 29, 2010 @ 4:30 p.m.

I think the part saying donations were not illegal was the part that bothered me a bit......donations can certainly be strong armed and that would be illegal.

The couts give schools wide latitude to do their job, I will certainly agree with that.


sandiegojoey Aug. 9, 2010 @ 5:31 a.m.

Those days are over....big time! I'll speak to what I know, girls lacrosse.

Girls lacrosse is considered a "club" sport, meaning they do not receive funding from the school or district. Any school sanctioned activity that does not receive tax payer money is considered "club", be it band, drama, or a sport like lacrosse.

Club programs are organized, funded, and coordinated 100% by volunteer parents who form non-profit booster clubs. Boosters are not payed, they work year around to raise money, find prospective coaches, purchase uniforms, set schedules, purchase and repair equipment, plan fundraisers and social functions, meet with other schools and coaches to set season schedules. They handle all game functions like score keepers, marking/painting fields, announcers, concessions, and referee payments.

A typical budget would include coaches salaries, uniforms, safety items, field paint, tournament fee's, etc and is about $10,000 per year for a 40 player JV and Varsity club. Coaches work 2 hours a day, five days a week(sometimes six days a week when there are Saturday games/tournaments). The coaches salary when divided by the hours worked will usually end up very close to minimum wage, so it's not about the money. Coaches are very hard to find because they're only paid during the season and most game and practice times are between 2:30pm and 5:00pm when most people are still at work. Finding a qualified coach with a work schedule that allows them to be off that early in the day is not easy, and most teachers simply don't do it anymore.

continued on next thread.....


sandiegojoey Aug. 9, 2010 @ 5:37 a.m.

.....continued from previous thread....

If you do the math, $10,000 divided by 40 players, you'll come up with $250 per player. Most boosters will sell a "spirit pack" containing a custom designed t-shirt with the team logo, perhaps some shorts, and other school spirit type items. The booster club often times will sell the spirit pack for about half the estimated per person budget costs, in this case a player would be asked for a $125 "donation" for his/her spirit pack. The remaining $125 per person costs would be raised throughout the year via car washes, concessions sales, and other fund raising activities.

If spirit packs are eliminated where will the money come from? If non-funded school clubs cannot charge "fee's" then how will band, lacrosse, field hockey, drama clubs, and many other programs stay in existence?

Parents have formed booster clubs to raise funds WITHOUT tax payers money and without using school personnel. Uniforms, referee's, coaching salaries, transportation, safety equipment etc comes from fundraising and parent volunteers, i.e. "boosters". Parents are taking photo's for the school album, buying concessions at Costco and Wal-Mart to sell at games, walking around at each game selling 50/50 opportunity raffles, washing and sewing the uniforms every year, parents are taking vacation days from work to coordinate spaghetti fundraisers, driving the players to and from games twice a week, parents are spray painting lines on the fields the night before games.

The Spirit Pack was as solution to charging a fee. Boosters would love to simply divide the budget by the number of participants and charge accordingly, but that would be considered "unfair" to those who cannot afford to pay, and that's where the school, the district, Sally, and the ACLU says NO.

For those who would say I'm insensitive to the social stigma and the issues facing poor students you're wrong, I spent my entire childhood in section 8 housing in Linda Vista, not far from Serra high, on welfare, and poor. I hate the thought of a child missing out on the chance to play sports, band, cheer, or any other activity because they cannot afford it. But the solution isn't to take it away from everyone else.

These non-funded activities produce college scholarships every year for band, sports, and other arts. For some kids it's a way out of a difficult family life, and for others it's a way to stay out of trouble.

Remember folks, these are nothing more than parents trying to raise money for their kids programs so they can enjoy the same high school activities that we enjoyed!

So, what is your solution Sally Smith and supporters? You seem to have a lot of good ideas when it comes to destroying a program, so how would you build one? And please don't tell me that "redirecting funs" is the solution because we all know that won't happen any time soon. Thousands of high school children need answers TODAY!


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