BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 438
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 30, 2010

                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                    SB 438 (Yee) - As Amended:  January 14, 2010 

          Policy Committee:                              Judiciary  

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              Yes


          This bill clarifies that pupils enrolled in charter schools have  
          the same free speech protections as pupils enrolled in other  
          public schools.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Minor absorbable GF/98 costs to charter schools to comply with  
          this measure.  According to a May 2006 decision by the  
          Commission on State Mandates (CSM), charter schools are not  
          eligible to claim mandate reimbursements.  In denying charter  
          schools' mandate claims, the CSM repeatedly cites the fact that  
          charter schools are "voluntarily" created.  


           1)Background  .  In 1969, the United States Supreme Court  
            recognized students' free speech rights for the first time in  
            its landmark ruling, Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist. (1969)  
            393 U.S. 503.  In the years following this decision,  
            California became the first state in the nation to enact a  
            statutory scheme that protected the free speech rights of  
            students.  These protections were codified.  

            In 1992, the Legislature enacted statute that further  
            strengthened the free speech rights of students of the state's  
            high schools, and public colleges and universities.  Relying  
            on this statutory authority, California courts have repeatedly  
            found students in California's schools enjoy broader free  
            speech protection than is generally provided under the First  
            Amendment of the United States Constitution.  


                                                                  SB 438
                                                                  Page  2

          2)Purpose  .  Current law states pupils in public schools have the  
            right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press, as  
            specified.  Statute also requires the governing board of a  
            school district and each county board of education to adopt  
            rules and regulations specifying reasonable provisions for the  
            time, place, and manner of conducting free speech activities.   

            The author contends this bill clarifies that charter schools  
            must adhere to existing laws that protect student expression  
            on campus, and protects both students and teachers for  
            exercising their rights.  

           3)Charter schools  .  Current statute establishes a charter school  
            as a public school that provides instruction in any of grades  
            K-12. It is usually created or organized by a group of  
            teachers, parents and community leaders or a community-based  
            organization.  A charter school may be authorized by an  
            existing local public school board, county board of education,  
            or the State Board of Education (SBE).  

            As of March 2010, there are 870 active and pending charter  
            schools.  Fifty-one of these schools have a status of  
            "pending" because they have been locally approved and numbered  
            by the SBE, but the state has been advised that funding will  
            not be claimed for these schools until the 2010-11 school  
            year.  Of the 870 charter schools, 25 currently operate based  
            on SBE approval.     

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Kimberly Rodriguez / APPR. / (916)