BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                                                                  AB 167
                                                                  Page A
          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 167 (Adams)
          As Amended  June 17, 2009
          Majority vote
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |79-0 |(May 4, 2009)   |SENATE: |32-0 |(September 2,  |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2009)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:   ED.  

           SUMMARY  :  Requires school districts to exempt a pupil in foster  
          care from district graduation requirements that exceed state  
          requirements if the pupil transfers to the district, or  
          transfers from one high school to another within a district, in  
          the 11th or 12th grade, unless the district makes a finding that  
          the pupil is reasonably able to complete the additional  
          requirements in time to graduate from high school while he or  
          she remains eligible for foster care benefits pursuant to state  
          law, and requires the district to notify and provide specified  
          information to the pupil if the exemption granted would affect  
          the pupil's ability to gain admission to a postsecondary  
          institution. 

           The Senate amendments: 

           1)Specify that a pupil in foster care shall be exempted from  
            coursework and other requirements adopted by the governing  
            board that are in addition to the statewide coursework  
            requirements. 

          2)Clarify that the exemption applies to pupils in foster care  
            that transfer between high schools within the district. 
           
          EXISTING LAW:   

          1)Prescribes the course of study a pupil is required to complete  
            while in grades 9 to 12, inclusive, to receive a diploma of  
            graduation, including additional coursework the governing  
            board of a school district is authorized to specify by rule.

          2)Requires school districts and county offices of education to  
            accept for credit full or partial coursework satisfactorily  
            completed by a pupil while attending a public school, juvenile  









                                                                  AB 167
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            court school or nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency.

          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/her 18th birthday, to continue to receive foster care aid  
            following his/her 18th birthday so long as the child continues  
            to reside in a foster care placement, and 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/her 19th birthday. 

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY,  this bill was substantially similar  
          to the version passed by the Senate.

           
          FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, assuming 2,500 to 5,000 annual notifications are  
          necessitated by this bill, this bill would result in state  
          reimbursable mandated costs of $75,000 to $150,000. 

           COMMENTS  :  As of January 2009, there are 71,590 children in  
          California's foster care system.  Children in the foster care  
          system often experience multiple residential placements and  
          multiple school changes.  The frequent changes in the lives of  
          foster youth can have detrimental effects on their academic  
          achievement.  

          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.   
          The report further points out that most children who enter the  
          foster care system are already a full academic year behind their  
          peers.<1>

          AB 490 (Steinberg), Chapter 862, Statutes of 2003, created  
          several protections to provide school stability for children in  
          ---------------------------
          <1> "Ready to Succeed: Changing Systems to Give California's  
          Foster Children the Opportunities They Deserve to be Ready for  
          and Succeed in School." Recommendations to Improve School  
          Readiness, School Success, and Data Sharing.  The Collaborative  
          for Children in Foster Care.  January 2008. 








                                                                  AB 167
                                                                  Page C
          foster care by allowing them to remain in their school of origin  
          for the duration of the school year when their residential  
          placement changes and when remaining in the same school is in  
          the child's best interest.  The protections in AB 490 also  
          included a requirement for school districts to calculate and  
          accept credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily  
          completed by the student and earned during attendance at a  
          public school, juvenile court, or nonpublic, nonsectarian  
          school. 

          This bill grants an automatic exemption to eligible students in  
          foster care from having to meet local coursework graduation  
          requirements in addition to the state required courses which a  
          pupil in foster care may not be able to complete due to the  
          frequent residential and/or school changes.  

          Arguments in support: The San Bernardino County Board of  
          Supervisors writes, "A foster child who is in high school who  
          has taken the required classes in their previous school district  
          may find that their new high school requires additional classes,  
          over and beyond those they have already taken to graduate.   
          Completing these new classes would likely not present a problem  
          to a freshman, who would have the time to take the required  
          classes before they graduate.  These additional requirements  
          could present a real problem to a foster child who is a junior  
          or a senior, and who may not have the time to complete these  
          additional classes."  

          Related legislation: AB 12 (Beall) requires the state to  
          exercise its option under specified federal law to establish a  
          kinship guardianship assistance payment program, and requires  
          the Department of Social Services to amend its foster care state  
          plan required under specified federal law, to extend foster care  
          benefits to specified individuals up to 21 years of age, in  
          accordance federal law.  AB 12 is a two-year bill pending in the  
          Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

          Prior legislation:  An identical measure AB 2138 (Adams) of  
          2008, requires school districts to exempt a pupil in foster care  
          who transfers to the district in grade 11 or 12 and would not be  
          able to graduate from high school by his/her 19th birthday from  
          the additional graduation coursework requirements the governing  
          board has adopted, and requires districts to provide  
          notification to such pupils, as specified.  AB 2138 was vetoed  
          by Governor Schwarzenegger. 









                                                                  AB 167
                                                                  Page D

          The veto message read, "This bill attempts to create a statewide  
          policy of 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."


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Marisol Avi?a / ED. / (916) 319-2087 

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