The Constitution of the State of California (1879) guarantees all children the right to a free and equal education. In 1984, in the decision re: Hartzell vs. Connell, The Supreme Court of the State of California, when asked the question, May a public high school district charge fees for educational programs simply because they have been denominated "extracurricular"?, said No. (The school district that precipitated the 1984 case was Santa Barbara.)
According to Adrienne Verrilli, at left, San Francisco public policy expert and reporter, writing for the Independent Voter Network:
The suit alleges that dozens of the state’s public schools are charging students fees for items that should be free to all students such as books, classes, uniforms and supplies. The suitwas brought on behalf of two Orange County high school students - Jane Doe and Jason Roe - and their families. In the lawsuit, the ACLU claims that the fees charged to students not only violate California’s state constitution that – since 1879 - entitles every student to free and equal education, but also the 1984 Hartzell vs. Connell decision in which the California Supreme Court found that a school that charges fees to participate in activities are not a free school as required by the California Constitution.
Multiple examples of fees charged to students by school districts from Long Beach to Sacramento are cited in the complaint. In the case of the Orange County students bringing the lawsuit, the complaint cites that Jane Doe’s public high school charged for workbooks, textbooks, and assigned novels for credit courses. It also charged students to take the Advanced Placement exam. Likewise, Jason Roe’s public high school charged for workbooks, lab manuals and gym uniforms for credit courses. It also required students to purchase locks and their agendas as a requirement to attend the school. Some additional examples of the fees include:
Berkeley High School in the Alameda Unified School District charges students for Advanced Placement (AP) courses in chemistry, biology and environmental sciences.
San Clemente High School in Orange County requires students to purchase books for their English classes.
California Academy of Math and Science in the Long Beach Unified School District charges the students fees for physical education uniforms that they are required to wear.
California High School in San Ramon, CA requires students to purchase foreign language workbooks and a locker lock for their school.