Parents retain right to enroll in schools near where they work

Parents retain right to enroll in schools near where they work

(Calif.) Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Monday that removes a July 2017 sunset on authorization for students to enroll in a school near where a parent or legal guardian works.

Assembly Bill 2537 from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, represents the most recent relaxation of policy that governs family rights to enroll their children in a school district where they do not live.

Last year, Brown also signed a bill that imposed the nation’s first set of rules restricting what a district could and could not do to establish scofflaw enrollees.

Currently, students can meet school residency requirements in several ways bedsides living inside the site boundaries. Children placed into a foster home, for instance, can remain with their district of origin. So can a pupil that has been admitted to a children’s institution or hospital.

Students also qualify if their parent or legal guardian is employed within the school boundary at least 10 hours or three days during the school week.

The employment option, however, was first established in 1986 and extended three times since. O’Donnell’s bill removes the existing July 1, 2017, expiration date without adding a new one.

The conflict between districts needing to control enrollment and families searching for the best education for their children became front-page news fodder in 2014 when an East Bay school district aggressively sought to exclude a second grader after discovering her mother maintained a principal residency in another community and only worked as a live-in nanny within the district’s jurisdiction.

In response, lawmakers not only extended the work-related enrollment exemption, but also passed a bill that requires districts that conduct pupil residency investigations to first create a policy outlining what steps will be taken and to publicly disclose their intent to conduct such an inquiry. The bill also prohibits schools from engaging in clandestine tactics directly involving minors, such as secretly photographing or interviewing them.

Other education bills signed Monday by the governor include :

  • AB 1593, which clarifies that a student who misses class to attend their own naturalization ceremony to become a United Sates citizen will no longer be considered an unexcused absence. Students who miss school for unexcused absences can earn truancy sanctions and may not be allowed to make up missed homework, tests or quizzes upon their return.

According to a staff report from the bill’s authors, Assemblymen  Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, and Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, children should not have to face such consequences “for missing school for something as important as becoming a citizen of this country.”

Previously, students could only be marked as having an excused absence for reasons including illness; appointments for medical, dental or optometric purposes; or if they had a scheduled court appearance; were attending a funeral; or participating in a religious holiday.

  • AB 2248, which eases the restrictions on bilingual out-of-state teachers by requiring the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to authorize incoming instructors to teach English language learners if they have an equivalent credential or permit to do so in another state.

In light of the state’s current teacher shortage, Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, the bill’s author, said there is a need to expedite the credentialing process instead of requiring experienced teachers to take additional coursework and multiple professional tests despite their education level or prior positive teaching evaluations.

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