BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 1012 (Jones-Sawyer) - Pupil instruction: course periods  
          without educational content.
          
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          |Version: July 15, 2015          |Policy Vote: ED. 8 - 0          |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes                    |
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          |Hearing Date: August 17, 2015   |Consultant: Jillian Kissee      |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.


          Bill  
          Summary:  This bill prohibits a school district serving any of  
          grades 9 through 12 from assigning students to any course  
          without educational content for more than one week in any  
          semester, and prohibits the assignment of any student to a  
          course that the student has previously completed and received a  
          satisfactory grade, unless specific conditions are met.


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
           The California Department of Education (CDE) indicates the  
            need of eight full-time positions, one part-time position, and  
            about $794,000 ongoing funding as no office currently exists  
            to monitor schools for course content.  Costs also include  
            addressing complaints of noncompliance and appeals and  
            providing technical assistance to the field.  See staff  
            comments.  (General Fund)








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        Background:1)  Existing law requires each school district serving any of  
          grades 7-12 to offer to all otherwise qualified students a  
          course of study fulfilling the requirements and prerequisites  
          for admission to the California public institutions of  
          postsecondary education and provide a timely opportunity to each  
          student to enroll within a four-year period in each course  
          necessary to fulfill those requirements and prerequisites prior  
          to graduation from high school.  Existing law also requires each  
          school district to offer a course of study that provides an  
          opportunity for students to attain entry-level employment skills  
          in business or industry upon graduation from high school, and  
          encourages districts to provide all students with a rigorous  
          academic curriculum that integrates academic and career skills,  
          incorporates applied learning in all disciplines, and prepares  
          all students for high school graduation and career entry.   
          (Education Code  51228)
          
          State regulations require local education agencies 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 et seq.)   


          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 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 plaintiffs allege that this lack of instructional time is  
          due to several factors, including: insufficient curricular  
          offerings and a lack of available qualified teachers; violence  
          or security disruptions; late changes to the master course  
          schedule requiring course and teacher changes; unstable,  
          transient teaching faculties and administration; and unaddressed  
          student absenteeism.  On April 24, 2015 the court denied a  
          motion for a preliminary injunction due to lack of evidence  








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          regarding the practices of most California high schools with  
          regard to classes without content in order to have a standard by  
          which the performance of the Plaintiff's schools can be  
          measured.




          Proposed Law:  
            This bill prohibits, beginning with the 2016-17 school year, a  
          school district maintaining any grades 9 through 12 from  
          assigning a student to any course period without educational  
          content for more than one week in a semester unless certain  
          conditions. 
          This bill prohibits, under any circumstances, a school district  
          from assigning a student enrolled to a course period without  
          educational content because there are not sufficient curricular  
          course offerings for the student to take during the relevant  
          period in the school day.  A "course period without educational  
          content" is defined as a course period in which: the student is  
          released from campus before the conclusion of the designated  
          school day; the student is assigned to a service, instructional  
          work experience, or to another course in which the student is  
          assigned to assist a certificated employee in a course, but the  
          student is not expected to complete curricular assignments; or  
          the student is not assigned to any course for the relevant  
          course period.  


          This bill also prohibits these school districts from assigning  
          students to a course the that student has previously completed  
          and received a grade determined to have satisfied the  
          requirements and prerequisites for admission to California  
          postsecondary education institutions and minimum requirements  
          for receiving a diploma of graduation from high school unless  
          either:


           The course is designed to be taken more than once;


           A student or a student's parent, guardian, or educational  
            rights holder has consented so that the student's grade can be  
            improved, a school official has determined that the student  








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            will benefit from being assigned to the course; and the  
            principal or assistance principal of the school has stated in  
            writing that these conditions be met.


          This bill requires the CDE to develop regulations to govern  
          these requirements, including the written statement required of  
          principals or assistant principals regarding students assigned  
          to courses without educational content and assigning them to  
          courses that students have already successfully completed.  The  
          CDE is also required to prepare an annual report to the  
          Legislature regarding actions taken.


          This bill allows complaints of noncompliance of these  
          requirements to be filed with the local educational agency (LEA)  
          under the Uniform Compliant Procedures (UCP).  A complainant may  
          appeal a decision of the LEA to the CDE if not satisfied.  If a  
          LEA or the CDE find merit in an appeal, the LEA must provide a  
          remedy to the affected students.  




          Related  
          Legislation:  There are numerous bills that expand the UCP to  
          include additional areas in which complaints may be filed with  
          LEAs.
          AB 379 (Gordon, 2015) expands the UCP to include complaints of  
          non-compliance with certain rights and responsibilities  
          regarding the education of students who are in foster care or  
          who are homeless.  AB 379 is pending in this Committee.  


          SB 81 (Chapter 22, Statutes of 2015) among other things, expands  
          the UCP to include complaints regarding an alleged violation by  
          a local agency of federal or state law or regulations governing  
          adult education programs or regional occupational centers and  
          programs.  


          AB 1391 (Gomez, 2015), expands the UCP to include complaints of  
          non-compliance with the required minimum instructional minutes  
          for physical education.  AB 1391 is pending in this Committee. 








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          AB 302 (Cristina Garcia, 2015) requires LEAs to provide  
          reasonable accommodations on a school campus for breast-feeding  
          and expands the UCP to include complaints of non-compliance with  
          this requirement.  AB 302 is pending in this Committee.


          Staff  
          Comments:  This bill broadens the areas in which the CDE is  
          required to monitors schools.  Though some of the identified  
          costs include workload to address complaints of noncompliance  
          and appeals, the actual level of staff needed is unknown as it  
          depends on the number of complaints received and the number of  
          appeals filed using the UCP.  
          The Commission on State Mandates has determined that specified  
          activities related to the implementation of the UCP are  
          reimbursable.  However, it is unclear whether the commission  
          would determine activities related to complaints of  
          noncompliance regarding courses without educational content  
          would be reimbursable since the activities would be triggered by  
          the LEAs' initial decision to place students in these courses.




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