BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”



                                                                    AB 1012


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          Date of Hearing:  April 29, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION


                              Patrick O'Donnell, Chair


          AB 1012  
          Jones-Sawyer - As Amended April 7, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Student instruction:  course periods without  
          educational content


          SUMMARY:  Defines "course periods without educational content,"  
          prohibits school districts from assigning students in grades  
          7-12 to any such course period without specified certifications  
          from school administrators, prohibits students from being  
          assigned to a course they have already completed, and  
          establishes a complaint process for violations of these  
          requirements. Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Defines a "course period without educational content" as a  
            course period during which the student is expected to engage  
            in activities with no assigned or planned substantive  
            curricular content. This includes a course period during which  
            a student is assigned to a room in which no certificated staff  
            is designated to provide instruction or assistance with  
            assignments or curricular content from other assigned courses,  
            is sent home or released from campus before the conclusion of  
            the designated school day, or is not assigned to any course  
            for the relevant course period.











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          2)Prohibits school districts from assigning students to attend  
            course periods without educational content because there are  
            not sufficient curricular course offerings for the student to  
            take in that period.



          3)Prohibits a school district (with the exception of alternative  
            schools, community day schools, continuation high schools, and  
            opportunity schools) maintaining any of grades 7 to 12 from  
            assigning any students to any course period without  
            educational content for more than one week in any semester,  
            unless certain conditions are met:



             a)   For students who have not met the A-G requirements of  
               the University of California or California State  
               University, or high school graduation requirements:



               1.     the principal an assistant principal of the school  
                 certifies in a document to be placed in the student's  
                 cumulative file that the student will benefit from being  
                 assigned to the course period, and provides an  
                 individualized explanation in the written certification  
                 for that conclusion, which may include an individualized  
                 determination that the student will benefit from  
                 mentorship that will be provided by the certificated or  
                 certified employee supervising the student during the  
                 relevant period

               2.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  
                 student's cumulative file that providing a course period  
                 with educational content is not likely to benefit the  
                 student to the same extent as providing the course period  
                 without educational content, and provides an explanation  








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                 in the written certification for that conclusion





               3.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  
                 student's cumulative file that the student is not being  
                 assigned to the course because there are no other courses  
                 with curricular content for the student to take during  
                 the relevant period in the designated schoolday.



               4.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  
                 student's cumulative file that the student and the  
                 parent, legal guardian, or educational rights holder of  
                 the student have consented to the student's enrollment in  
                 the course period without educational content and that  
                 the school has obtained a consent form, signed by the  
                 student and the parent, legal guardian, or educational  
                 rights holder of the student.



               5.     the student is assigned to no more than one course  
                 period without educational content during a single  
                 semester.



             a)   For students who have fulfilled both the A-G and  
               graduation requirements: 


               1.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  








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                 student's cumulative file that the student will benefit  
                 from being assigned to the course period and provides an  
                 individualized explanation in the written certification  
                 for that conclusion, which may include an individualized  
                 determination that the student will benefit from  
                 mentorship that will be provided by the certificated or  
                 certified employee supervising the student during the  
                 relevant period or identification of the educational or  
                 employment opportunity that assigning the course period  
                 will allow the student to pursue and reason for  
                 concluding the student will pursue that opportunity



               2.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  
                 student's cumulative file that the student is not being  
                 assigned to the course because there are no other courses  
                 with curricular content for the student to take during  
                 the relevant period in the designated schoolday



               3.     the principal or an assistant principal of the  
                 school certifies in a document to be placed in the  
                 student's cumulative file that the student and the  
                 parent, legal guardian, or educational rights holder of  
                 the student have consented to the student's enrollment in  
                 the course period without educational content and that  
                 the school has obtained a consent form, signed by the  
                 student and the parent, legal guardian, or educational  
                 rights holder of the student



          1)States that nothing in this section shall be interpreted to  
            limit the authority of a school district to establish and  
            maintain evening high school programs, to offer independent  
            study, to provide courses of work-based learning or work  








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            experience education, or to offer distance learning, if the  
            program otherwise meets all of the requirements of law  
            governing that program.



          2)Prohibits a school district (with the exception of alternative  
            schools, community day schools, continuation high schools, and  
            opportunity schools) from assigning any student to a course  
            that the student has previously completed with a grade  
            sufficient to meet the A-G requirements and graduation  
            requirements, unless all of the principal or assistant  
            principal certifies that:



             a)   the course is designed to be repeated because students  
               are exposed to a new curriculum year-to-year and are  
               therefore expected to derive educational value from  
               repeating the course



             b)   the student is not being assigned to the course because  
               there are no other courses with curricular content to take  
               during the relevant period 



             c)   a school official met with the student and obtained the  
               student's signed consent to enroll in the course.



          1)Requires that if a school district determines that, at any  
            point during the current or preceding academic year, one or  
            more of its schools has not satisfied the above requirements,  
            it immediately notify the SPI and with a description of the  
            circumstances that caused the school district not to satisfy  








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            the pertinent requirement, the number of students affected,  
            the steps that the school district has taken to resolve the  
            situation, and any changes to the school district's policies  
            or procedures to ensure that all of its schools satisfy those  
            requirements.



          2)Allows any member of the public to file a complaint directly  
            with the CDE alleging that, at any point during the current or  
            preceding academic year, a school district has not satisfied  
            these requirements.  Allows a complaint to be filed  
            anonymously under certain circumstances.



          3)Requires that within 21 days of receiving a complaint the CDE  
            complete an investigation.



          4)Requires that, to the extent that the CDE concludes that the  
            school district has not taken appropriate action to resolve  
            the situation, the SPI immediately convene a local assistance  
            committee to develop a written plan to ensure that the school  
            district satisfies these requirements.  



          5)In developing the plan, requires the local assistance  
            committee to consult with students, parents, legal guardians  
            or educational rights holders, and teachers at the affected  
            schools, and to complete the plan no later than 21 days after  
            the CDE makes the determination.



          6)Requires the SPI to prepare an annual report detailing actions  
            taken pursuant to this section and report to the Legislature.   








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          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Specifies requirements for graduation from high school,  
            including:  three courses in English; two courses in  
            mathematics; two courses in science; three courses in social  
            studies; one course in visual or performing arts, foreign  
            language, or career technical education; and two courses in  
            physical education.  Authorizes school districts to adopt  
            additional requirements for graduation.


          2)Establishes course requirements for admission to the  
            University of California and the California State University,  
            known as the A-G requirements.


          3)Requires that only the attendance of students under the  
            immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee  
            is counted toward the computation of average daily attendance.


          4)Establishes the minimum day in middle school and high school  
            as 240 minutes.  


          5)Through regulation, requires LEAs to adopt uniform complaint  
            procedures through which the public can register complaints  
            regarding educational programs and rights.  (California Code  
            of Regulations, Title 5, Section 4600).  


          FISCAL EFFECT:  This bill has been keyed a state-mandated local  
          program by the Office of Legislative Counsel









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          COMMENTS:  


          Need for the bill.  The author's office states, "Thousands of  
          high school students across California are tracked into  
          so-called "classes," where they are given meaningless "credits"  
          for sitting at home, in the office, or taking a course they've  
          already passed.  


          School districts have given these courses different names  
          ("home," "service," "work-experience," "college," "adult"), but  
          they all have a common trait: they rob students of learning time  
          and the opportunity for a real education.  And many of the  
          affected students need real, academic classes to fulfill  
          graduation or college access requirements.


          The schools where this occurs serve almost exclusively  
          low-income students of color.  Although this is not the norm  
          across California, it is all-too common in communities where  
          students can least afford to lose learning time.  It is time to  
          ensure that all of our schools have the support they need to  
          provide real classes to every student until they graduate." 


          Bill related to lawsuit filed by the sponsor. This bill is  
          related to Cruz v. State of California, a class action lawsuit  
          filed May 29th, 2014 in Alameda County Superior Court against  
          the state on behalf of students in seven schools.


          The suit names as plaintiffs a class of current or future  
          students attending Castlemont High School in the Oakland Unified  
          School District, John C. Fremont High School in the Los Angeles  
          Unified School District (LAUSD), Nystrom Elementary School in  
          the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Franklin S.  
          Whaley Middle School in the Compton Unified School District,  








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          Fremont High School in the Oakland Unified School District,  
          Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in the LAUSD, and  
          Compton High School in the Compton Unified School District.


          The suit names as defendants the State of California, the State  
          Department of Education, the State Board of Education (SBE), and  
          the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. 

          The plaintiffs allege that the state has violated the rights of  
          the plaintiffs provided by the Equal Protection clauses of the  
          state constitution "by failing to provide them with basic  
          educational opportunities equal to those that other students  
          elsewhere in the State receive" with regard to meaningful  
          learning time.  The complaint alleges that at certain schools:


            "the disparity in the availability of meaningful learning  
            time, which is created and perpetuated by the State's  
            systematic failure to adequately staff and resource  
            Plaintiffs' schools and by the State's failure to monitor  
            practices at these schools responsible for such deprivations,  
            denies Plaintiff students and their peers an equal chance to  
            obtain essential basic literacy and mathematical skills, and  
            the opportunity to meet the mandated academic content  
            standards that assume students have these skills."


          They allege that the defendants' "actions and inactions  
          resulting in the creation and exacerbation of these disparities  
          are deliberate and conscious, in that they are aware of the  
          causes of these disparities, yet have failed to establish any  
          system to monitor the provision of meaningful learning time in  
          schools throughout California and remedy identified gaps."


          They allege that this lack of instructional time is due to  
          several factors, including:









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                 "assignment of students to administrative tasks or free  
               periods instead of assignment to classroom periods of  
               instruction because of insufficient curricular offerings  
               and a lack of available qualified teachers; 
                 violence or security disruptions, which result in  
               cessation of instruction and traumatic after-effects, and  
               insufficient access to mental health professionals to  
               assist students and faculty in coping with these  
               disruptions; 
                 late changes to the master course schedule requiring  
               course and teacher changes well into the semester; 
                 unstable, transient teaching faculties and  
               administrative teams (including principals, assistant  
               principals, and counselors), resulting from under-resourced  
               and stressful campuses not conducive to professional  
               development and growth; and 
                 unaddressed student absenteeism, resulting in whole or  
               part from campus conditions"

          The complaint requests that the court address the state's  
          monitoring system and its intervention to prevent and remedy the  
          causes of lost learning time.

          On February 5th of this year the plaintiffs filed a motion for a  
          preliminary injunction.  Last week (April 24th), Alameda County  
          Superior Court Judge George C. HernŠndez, Jr. denied this  
          motion, stating that "If, at this stage, Plaintiffs cannot  
          supply reliable evidence regarding the actual practices of most  
          California high schools with regard to the use of contentless  
          classes and the timely implementation of appropriate master  
          schedules, the court lacks a fair standard against which to  
          measure the performance of Plaintiff's own high schools and  
          cannot determine, even preliminarily, whether Plaintiffs have  
          some possibility of prevailing on their claims."

          According to the Legislative Analyst's Office, the Legislature  
          approved $3.4 million in the current year for the CDE and SBE to  
          contract for legal services related to this case, and the  








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          Governor's Budget proposes providing an additional $3.7 million  
          for this contract in 2015-16.  

          Why introduce this measure while litigation is pending?  This  
          bill addresses one of the five parts of the Cruz v. State of  
          California complaint, and is before the Legislature while the  
          court is reviewing the case.  Counsel for the plaintiffs in the  
          case has stated that any remedy ordered by the court will only  
          apply to the schools in question, and that if these practices  
          are occurring anywhere in the state they should be stopped  
          immediately.  


          Because this bill is related to pending litigation, state  
          information resources normally available to staff have been  
          limited.  As a result, staff is not aware of activities of the  
          state to remedy the alleged problems through monitoring or  
          intervention, nor is staff apprised of the state's defense,  
          except as refuted in the plaintiffs' complaints.  The Committee  
          may wish to consider that, as a result, the analysis of this  
          bill relies heavily on the evidence made available by the  
          attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, and does not have the  
          full benefit of information which would normally be available.


          Districts respond to lawsuit by curtailing some practices.   
          According to a reply brief submitted in support of the motion  
          for preliminary injunction, Compton High School has ceased  
          scheduling students in "home" periods and has placed "sharp  
          limitations" on service periods since this suit was filed, and  
          LAUSD has indicated that it will take some measures to limit  
          "home" and "service" periods and produce timely, complete master  
          schedules.


          2014-15 scheduling problems in LAUSD caused by data system  
          failure.  The author's office points to scheduling problems in  
          the LAUSD in the current school year as evidence of the problem  
          this bill is designed to address.  








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          In August, 2014 students at Jefferson High School in the Los  
          Angeles Unified School district (LAUSD) walked out of class  
          during their third week of school in protest over a new  
          scheduling system which failed to assign students to classes and  
          assigned some to classes they'd already taken.  Students  
          reported sitting in auditoriums all day for days while course  
          schedules were worked out, and being assigned to classes they  
          had already completed.  Teachers found elementary school  
          students listed on high school attendance sheets.


          The problems which occurred in LAUSD were related to a new data  
          system, called MiSis, which was developed by the district and  
          introduced this year.  School district officials acknowledged  
          significant problems with the system, and reported that nearly  
          all scheduling problems were addressed by the end of 2014.  The  
          Committee may wish to consider that, while the problems of the  
          current school year were significant and had serious  
          consequences for students, they appear to represent an acute  
          problem caused by a data system failure, and are not necessarily  
          reflective of a chronic problem.


          Evidence of management problems presented in student and staff  
          interviews.  Sudent and staff declarations provided by counsel  
          for the plaintiffs paint a picture of five high schools in the  
          Oakland, Compton, and Los Angeles school districts with numerous  
          management problems.  These include:


                 Scheduling problems (evidenced by students being placed  
               into courses late, being placed in courses already  
               completed, overcrowding of courses, and cancelled courses) 


                 Staffing problems, including high teacher and  
               administrator turnover (evidenced by students being  








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               instructed by multiple substitute teachers, report of high  
               administrator turnover)


                 Counseling services pro


                 blems (evidenced by overwhelmed counselors and poor  
               counseling)


                 Insufficient course offerings for A-G completion  
               (evidenced by students not able to enroll in A-G courses)


          Some statements also indicated that the limited elective course  
          offerings was associated with a decision on the part of the  
          school districts to focus their resources on remedial  
          instruction, which the plaintiff's acknowledge is necessary for  
          many students in these schools.  They state, 
          "Fremont has invested its limited resources in providing  
          intervention classes, which are necessary for many students to  
          graduate, but this has come at the expense of offering  
          sufficient classes and electives to fill the course schedules of  
          students who are on track to graduate."
          
          Author states that this is not the norm.  If so, why is a  
          statewide mandate needed?   While proponents of this bill have  
          presented evidence of serious management problems in certain  
          schools, they have not provided evidence that this is a problem  
          common to many districts in the state.  Indeed, the author's  
          office states that these practices are "not the norm across  
          California."  


          The class action complaint in Cruz v. State of California  
          acknowledges this as well, stating that "most California public  
          high schools offer sufficient courses such that students enroll  
          as a routine matter in the courses they need to complete for  








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          graduation and college eligibility and students on track to meet  
          graduation requirements have the option to take meaningful  
          elective courses that enhance their education and keep them  
          engaged in learning."

          In spite of this, AB 1012 proposes a state mandate which (see  
          comments below) could have significant consequences for course  
          offerings at all schools.  This bill would have the effect of  
          requiring all 1,000 school districts to review all of their  
          elective courses to determine whether they meet the requirements  
          of the law, when there is no evidence of a problem in most  
          districts.  The Committee may wish to consider why a statewide  
          mandate is needed if this problem is limited to some school  
          districts.  

          Administrative requirements for enrolling students in "courses  
          without educational content" would effectively eliminate these  
          courses.  This bill requires that, in order to place a student  
          in a "course without educational content," a principal or  
          assistant principal would have to certify, with an  
          individualized determination, that the student would benefit  
          more from such a course than one with educational content.  The  
          bill would also require that signed consent be obtained from the  
          student's parent or guardian.





          Given the demands already placed on school administrators, the  
          time required to make an individualized determination of  
          educational benefit, the difficulty schools experience obtaining  
          signed consent from parents, and other factors, the requirements  
          of this bill would have the effect of, for all practical  
          purposes, of eliminating "contentless courses."












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          Valuable courses could be eliminated.  What are those  
          "contentless courses?"  In some cases they may be the "service,"  
          "home," and "inside work experience," and "academic literacy,"  
          courses with no academic value to which students are assigned to  
          fill holes in their schedules.  These "courses" impede students'  
          progress toward graduation and college readiness.





          But in other cases they may be valuable courses.  Staff has  
          heard concerns expressed that many such courses might be  
          eliminated by this bill, and has also reviewed the course  
          catalog of several school districts to try to identify courses  
          which could be eliminated by this bill.  These may include:





                 AVID
                 AVID peer support
                 AVID tutor
                 special education peer support
                 study hall
                 mentoring
                 coaching assistant
                 student council
                 student newspaper
                 IHigh Lab (online A-G courses)
                 science research techniques
                 International Baccalaureate support
                 peer counseling
                 yearbook
                 conflict resolution and mediation
                 teaching assistant
                 peer resources








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                 rehearsal and performance
                 advisory
                 literary publications
                 peer tutoring
                 leadership
                 math intervention
                 homeroom
                 pregnant and parenting peer support

          The CDE does not collect information about many elective  
          offerings.  Given the diversity of elective course offerings in  
          the state and the paucity of information about them at the state  
          level, no matter how precisely drafted, any such legislation is  
          likely to eliminate worthwhile course offerings for students.   
          The Committee may wish to consider that the Legislature does not  
          have, and may never have, enough information to create a  
          definition which does not eliminate some valuable learning  
          opportunities for students.  


          Would this bill eliminate homeroom and study hall?  A good  
          example of the problem the Legislature faces in determining what  
          is "contentless" is study hall.  This bill requires that study  
          hall only be considered a course with education content if it is  
          being staffed by a certificated employee.  

          CDE data on course enrollments show that for the course titled  
          "Homeroom/Study Hall," total enrollment in 2012-13 was just  
          under 150,000 students at 413 schools.  This may understate the  
          number of students enrolled in study hall because reporting for  
          homeroom and study hall is optional.  


          Staff has asked many parties whether study hall is generally  
          staffed by certificated employees, and no one has been able to  
          provide an answer.  The Committee may wish to consider whether  
          it is appropriate for the Legislature to approve course  
          prohibitions when it is not able to determine how it will affect  
          thousands of schools - and in this case as many as 150,000  








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          students.

          A curriculum solution for a management problem.  Proponents of  
          this bill argue that "contentless courses" are used to fill the  
          gaps in the schedules of students when there are no course  
          offerings available to that student.  Not making key courses  
          available to students, as stated above, is indicative of serious  
          management problems.  These courses could be viewed as a "patch"  
          on a broken system.  The Committee may wish to consider whether  
          fixing this problem gets at the root causes of problems at these  
          schools.



          A new complaint process for this issue?  This bill establishes a  
          new complaint system which allows individuals to submit  
          complaints directly to the CDE, establishes new timelines for  
          the state's response, and establishes new remedies.  

          This bill requires that, if through the investigation of a  
          complaint an LEA is determined to have violated the law, the SPI  
          "immediately" intervene by creating a local assistance committee  
          to resolve the problem.  The bill requires that the committee  
          consult relevant stakeholders and prepare a written plan to  
          remedy the problem in 21 days.  As written, this intervention by  
          the state could be triggered by as few as one student's  
          complaint.  


          Staff is unaware of any precedent for this kind of immediate  
          state intervention regarding individual complaints.  There is,  
          however, precedent in statute for a requirement that when merit  
          is found in a complaint, the LEA must "provide a remedy to all  
          affected students, parents, and guardians."  


          Since 1991, LEAs and the state have operated a system known as  
          the Uniform Complaint Procedures, with the goal of making the  
          complaint system easier to administer and more transparent to  








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          the public.  These regulations require the adoption of the UCP  
          by school districts, county offices of education, charter  
          schools receiving federal funds, and local public or private  
          agencies which receive direct or indirect state funding to  
          provide school programs or special education or related  
          services.  The UCP is used for complaints regarding more than a  
          dozen state and federal programs, as well as discrimination,  
          harassment, bullying, intimidation, unlawful student fees,  
          certain charter school requirements, and violations of the law  
          establishing LCAPs.  


          The existing process for complaints is available and appears  
          suitable for resolution of complaints regarding courses with no  
          educational content.  Given that the proposed process would add  
          complexity to the complaint system, that in the proposed process  
          there is no opportunity for the LEA to receive and resolve a  
          complaint before involving the state, and given the poor  
          precedent this would set, the Committee may wish to consider  
          whether the bill should be amended to require use of the UCP  
          instead of creating a new process.


          Additional concerns.  There are additional questions raised by  
          this bill:  How could it be implemented half way through the  
          coming academic year (given the January 1, 2016 effective date)?  
           Since there are no A-G requirements for middle school grades,  
          how would an administrator determine what is required for  
          enrollment of a middle school student?  


          Given these concerns, the Committee may wish to consider the  
          following alternative means of addressing this problem:

             1)   Do not define and effectively prohibit "contentless  
               courses," as this may result in students being denied  
               valuable educational opportunities.










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             2)   Prohibit the most clear examples of poor course  
               assignment, such as students being sent home because no  
               course is available, and being assigned to a class they  
               have already satisfactorily completed.


             3)   Address management problems by directing the California  
               Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) to work  
               with the districts in question to improve master  
               scheduling, course availability, and course assignment.  


               The CCEE was established to provide advice and assistance  
               to local educational agencies (LEAs) in achieving the goals  
               set forth in the Local Control and Accountability Plans  
               (LCAPs).  The CCEE will contract with LEAs, among other  
               entities, to provide this assistance.  Problems related to  
               master scheduling, course availability, and course  
               assignment, to the extent they affect college and career  
               readiness (state priorities addressed by LCAPs) are  
               squarely in the purview of the CCEE, and other LEAs which  
               have successfully addressed these problems could assist  
               these districts.  These  districts would likely benefit  
               from, for example, the experience of San Diego Unified  
               School District, which has in recent years eliminated  
               service and tutoring courses and replaced them with support  
               courses attached to core academic courses.  San Diego also  
               uses an Interdivisional Curriculum Committee to review all  
               course offerings for educational value.  Through the CCEE,  
               this school district might provide valuable peer guidance  
               to the districts in question.  


             4)   Use the established method of complaint resolution: the  
               Uniform Complaint Process.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:









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          Support


          American Civil Liberties Union of California (sponsor)


          Black Organizing Project


          Californians for Justice


          Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund


          EdVoice


          Equal Justice Society


          PICO California


          Public Advocates


          Public Counsel




          Opposition


          None on file








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          Analysis Prepared by:Tanya Lieberman / ED. / (916) 319-2087