Student Activity Fees

Students Smiling

Public Education

The Constitution of the State of California requires that we provide a public education to students free of charge.

A student’s right to a free education is for all school/educational activities, whether curricular or extracurricular, and whether a student gets a grade for the activity or class. Subject to certain exceptions, a student’s right to a free public education means that we cannot require you or your student to purchase materials, supplies, equipment, or uniforms for any school activity, nor can we require you or your student to pay security deposits for access, participation, materials, or equipment. Your school may require students to attend a fundraising event; however, if they are unable to raise funds for the event, we cannot prevent students from participating in an educational activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Yes. School districts, schools, programs, and classes can and do seek and accept donations of funds and property, and this practice is permissible as long as the donation is truly voluntary and in no way a prerequisite to participation in the program or activity. Therefore, any statement or explanation related to a donation that could lead a reasonable person to believe the donation may not be truly voluntary is to be avoided. Access to educational programs must not be tied to either the willingness or the ability to pay a fee or request a fee waiver.
A: Yes. As with donations, school districts, schools, programs,and classes can and do engage in fundraising activities and programs, and this practice is also permissible as long as the raising of funds is voluntary. You may require students to attend a fundraising event; however, if they are unable to raise funds for the event, you cannot prevent them from participating in an educational activity. It is important to distinguish required fundraising from required attendance at fundraising event as attendance at a fundraising event is the same as attendance at practices, games, rehearsals, or performances which are all an expected aspect of participation. For example, expecting the members of a vocal ensemble to attend a fundraising concert that is on its calendar of events does not violate the “free school” guarantee, so long as attendance is the only requirement. Another example is when members of an athletic team are expected to help out with a fundraising sale at a Back to School Night or Open House—just as a coach can expect players to attend practices and games, the coach can expect players to attend a fundraising event as long as the requirement is to attend rather than to raise money as a condition of participation in the activity or program.
A: No. A school must provide a free uniform to any student who is a member of the school team in question. Further, the free uniform must be substantially the same uniform as those which are made available for purchase. You can allow students to purchase their own uniforms if they want to purchase uniforms; however, buying a uniform cannot be a requirement to participate in a sport.
A: No. Spirit packs may be sold; however, you cannot require a student to purchase a spirit pack as a prerequisite to participate in a sport.  If there are practice uniforms, etc., which are required, they must be provided free of charge to any student who is a member of the school team in question.
A: The waiver process based on financial need or inability to pay does not make an otherwise impermissible fee permissible.
A: Yes. There are specific fees, charges and deposits are that legally permissible because they are specifically permitted by law.  These specific fees, charges and deposits are legally permissible:
  • Charges for optional attendance as a spectator at a school or District sponsored activity.
  • Charges for food served to students, subject to free and reduced price meal program eligibility and other restrictions specified in law.
  • Paying the replacement cost for District books or supplies loaned to a student that the student fails to return, or that is willfully cut, defaced or otherwise injured, up to an amount not to exceed $10,000.
  • Fees for field trips and excursions in connection with courses of instruction or school related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities, as long as no student is prevented from making the field trip or excursion because of lack of sufficient funds.
  • Medical or hospital insurance for field trips that is made available by the school district.
  • Charges for required medical and accident insurance for athletic team members, so long as there is a waiver for financial hardship.
  • Charges for standardized physical education attire of a particular color and design, but the school may not mandate that the attire be purchased from the school and no physical education grade of a student may be impacted based on the failure to wear standardized apparel “arising from circumstances beyond the control” of the student.
  • Charging for the parking of vehicles on school grounds.
  • Charges for the rental or lease of personal property needed for District purposes, such as caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies.
  • Fees for school camp programs, so long as no student is denied the opportunity to participate because of nonpayment of the fee.
  • Reimbursement for the direct cost of materials provided to a student for property the student has fabricated from such materials for his/her own possession and use, such as wood shop, art, or ceramics projects kept by the student.
  • Reimbursement for the actual cost of duplicating public records, student records, or a prospectus of the school curriculum.
  • Fees for transportation to and from school, and transportation between school and regional occupational centers, programs or classes, as long as the fee does not exceed the statewide average nonsubsidized cost per student and provided there is a waiver provision based on financial need.
  • Fees for transportation of pupils to places of summer employment.
  • Tuition fees charged to pupils whose parents are actual and legal residents of an adjacent foreign country or an adjacent state.
  • Tuition fees collected from foreign students attending a District school pursuant to an F-1 visa, equal to the full unsubsidized per capita cost of providing education during the period of attendance.
  • Fees for an optional fingerprinting program for kindergarten or other newly enrolled students, if the fee does not exceed the actual costs associated with the program.
  • Fees for community classes in civic, vocational, literacy, health, homemaking, and technical and general education, not to exceed the cost of maintaining the community classes.
  • Deposits for band instruments, music, uniforms, and other regalia which school band members take on excursions to foreign countries.
  • Charges for eye safety devices, at a price not to exceed the district's actual costs, in specified courses or activities in which students are engaged in, or are observing, an activity or the use of hazardous substances likely to cause injury to the eyes.
A: Parents, guardians, students, faculty, and staff should direct questions about school-specific matters needing clarification/explanation directly to the school's principal. Principals should contact the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services for guidance and support with responses to school-specific questions about student fees, charges, deposits, donations and fundraising. District Office staff will ensure that questions and responses are disseminated to schools through this web-space and by other means.
A: No. ASB cards are optional item for all students.  Students cannot be required to buy ASB cards in order to run for an office or as a condition to participate in a club/organization or try out for a team or sport.
A: Students cannot be required to pay the dues as a condition for membership in the club at the school level. If the national level club/organization collects dues, the students should be directed to pay them directly to the organization, but membership in the national level club/organization cannot be a requirement for membership in the school level club.
A: Students can be charged for materials if they will take home what they make.  However, students should be able to make things they do not take home if they do not want to pay for extra materials.  Understandably, this means that students (1) make things that that they do not take home and we throw it away; or (2) in the case of a ceramics course, they cannot fire their clay items in the kiln, so that the clay remains reusable.