A newly proposed law would allow parents and students to contest illegal school fees and get paid back promptly, cementing a legal settlement over how schools should redress the widespread problem.

While schools are supposed to provide a free public education, many public schools have routinely charged families for class supplies, gym uniforms and other necessities. The law bans schools from charging children for books and materials needed for schoolwork; a 1984 case also found that schools can’t make kids “pay to play” for sports or clubs such as drama or music either.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the state of California over the issue, reached a settlement last month that laid out the new rules. This proposed law would now make those rules official. It includes a new complaint process that requires schools to fully reimburse all parents or pupils who are illegally charged fees. School audits would have to examine any illegal fees, too.

The bill was introduced last week by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, who represents part of Los Angeles County. You can read the full text of the bill here. The settlement depends on the law being passed.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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