BILL ANALYSIS SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Gloria Romero, Chair 2009-2010 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 167 AUTHOR: Adams AMENDED: June 3, 2009 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: June 10, 2009 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT: Lynn Lorber SUBJECT : Local high school graduation requirements: foster youth. SUMMARY This bill requires a school district to exempt foster youth who transfer into a school district in grade 11 or 12 from any coursework requirements imposed by the district that exceed the minimum state graduation requirements if the foster youth cannot complete the additional requirements in time to graduate from high school. BACKGROUND Current law: 1) Requires a pupil to pass both the English language arts and mathematics portions of the California High School Exit Exam and complete the following courses as a condition of graduating from high school: a) Three years of English. b) Two years of mathematics. c) Two years of science, including biological and physical science. d) Three years of social studies, including: United State history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; one semester of American government and civics, and one semester of economics. e) One year of visual or performing arts or foreign language. AB 167 Page 2 f) Two years of physical education, unless exempt by law. 2) Authorizes school districts to impose coursework requirements that are in addition to those prescribed by state statute as a condition of graduation from high school. 3) Allows a child who is in foster care and who is attending high school or the equivalent level of vocational or technical training on a full-time basis, or is in the process of pursuing a high school equivalency certificate, prior to his or her 18th birthday, to continue to receive foster care aid beyond his or her 18th birthday so long as the child continues to reside in a foster care placement, continues to attend high school or the equivalent on a full-time basis, and the child is reasonably expected to complete the educational or training program or to receive a high school equivalency certificate, before his or her 19th birthday. 4) Requires schools to allow foster youth to remain in the school of origin for the duration of the school year when the foster youth's residential placement changes and when remaining in the same school is in the child's best interest. 5) Requires school districts to accept for credit full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by a pupil while attending a public school, juvenile court school, or nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency. ANALYSIS This bill requires a school district to exempt foster youth who transfer into a school district in grade 11 or 12 from any coursework requirements imposed by the district that exceed the minimum state graduation requirements if the foster youth cannot complete the additional requirements in time to graduate from high school. Specifically, this bill: 1) Requires a school district to exempt a pupil in foster care who transfers to the district in grade 11 or 12 and who otherwise would not be able to graduate from high school while he or she remains eligible for foster care AB 167 Page 3 benefits from any additional coursework requirements the governing board has adopted, unless the district makes a finding that the pupil is reasonably able to complete the additional requirements in time to graduate with his or her class. 2) Requires a school district to notify a pupil in foster care who is granted an exemption, and as appropriate, the educational rights holder, if any of the requirements that are waived will affect the pupil's ability to gain admission to a postsecondary educational institution and information about transfer opportunities available through the California Community Colleges. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Foster youth . As of October 2008, there were over 73,000 children in California's foster care system. According to a report from the California Education Collaborative for Children in Foster Care, about 50% of foster youth have been held back in school, 46% will not complete high school, and fewer than 3% will go on to a four-year college. 2) Local graduation requirements . Current law allows school districts to impose coursework requirements that are in addition to those prescribed by the state as a condition of graduation from high school. In addition to state graduation requirements, the Sacramento City Unified School District requires the completion of a service learning project or senior project; the San Diego Unified School District requires presentation of a senior exhibition; and, the AB 167 Page 4 Los Angeles Unified School District requires pupils to demonstrate computer literacy and complete two semesters of an applied technology course and one semester of a life skills course. 3) Clarifying amendment . Staff recommends an amendment to clarify that the foster youth affected by this bill would not be able to graduate from high school due to the additional coursework required by the school district beyond coursework required by the state. This ensures the foster youth would still be required to complete all coursework required by state law as well as pass the California High School Exit Exam as a condition of graduating from high school. 4) Technical amendment . Staff recommends an amendment to ensure that this bill covers situations where a foster youth transfers to a different high school within the same district when the new school has different graduation requirements than the prior school. For example, Casa Roble, Del Campo and Mesa Verde high schools within the San Juan Unified School District all have different graduation requirements. 5) Pupils in military families . AB 2101 (Salda?a, Chapter 608, 2006) authorized school districts and county offices of education to establish a course credit transfer policy for school-age military dependents provided that, under the policy, the pupil would still substantially meet the graduation requirements of that district. Nothing in AB 2101 precluded a school district from requiring military dependents to meet the graduation requirements of that district that may go beyond state requirements. 6) Fiscal impact . According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis, this bill creates GF/98 state reimbursable mandated costs, likely less than $100,000, to school districts to comply with the notification requirement in this bill. This assumes between three and 10% of foster care pupils are notified. 7) Related legislation . AB 12 (Beall) among other things, extends foster care, KinGAP, and the Adoptions Assistance Program to age 21 for certain foster youth. AB 12 is a two-year bill, pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 167 Page 5 AB 156 (Jeffries) authorizes the governing board of a school district to offer one credit towards the required number of credits required for graduation from high school for training and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or use of an automatic external defibrillator, or both. AB 156 was never heard. AB 554 (Furutani) increases the number of courses required for high school graduation from 13 to 14 and offers pupils a choice between a course in visual performing arts, foreign language, or career technical education to fulfill the additional course requirement. AB 554 was held on the Assembly Appropriations Committee's suspense file. AB 1067 (Brownley) among other things, requires local educational agencies that provide transportation in their school districts to take into account the special transportation needs of foster youth, including providing transportation to their school of origin. AB 1067 was held on the Assembly Appropriations Committee's suspense file. SB 381 (Wright) among other things, prohibits a school district from adopting a graduation requirement that requires the completion of additional coursework to meet or exceed the requirements and prerequisites for admission to a four-year California public university unless the district also adopts an optional graduation requirement that requires the completion of an equal amount of coursework to attain entry-level employment skills in business or industry upon graduation from high school. SB 381 is pending in the Assembly. SB 520 (Pavley) authorizes a school district to offer one credit for each 12 hours of volunteer service outside of regular school hours provided by a high school pupil, up to a maximum of 5 credits per pupil per semester, and for a maximum of 2 semesters. SB 520 is pending in the Assembly Education Committee. 8) Prior legislation . AB 2138 (Adams, 2008) was nearly identical to this bill. AB 2138 was vetoed. The Governor's veto message read: This bill attempts to create a statewide policy of AB 167 Page 6 exempting certain foster care students from district-specific graduation requirements. In doing so, this bill would usurp the authority of local school boards to determine the conditions under which students should be granted diplomas. Beyond the current minimum statewide requirements, local school boards have the ability to waive their own local graduation requirements based on the merit of each student's case. This bill would undermine their ability to judge each individual student's particular circumstances. SUPPORT All Saints Church Foster Care Project Aspiranet California Peace Officers' Association California Police Chiefs Association California State PTA California State University County of San Bernardino County Welfare Directors Association Junior League of Orange County Los Angeles Unified School District Special Education Local Plan Area Administrators OPPOSITION None received.