“As a participant in Colville High School sports, you are required to purchase an ASB card from the main office for $20.00. If you have not purchased your card by Friday, April 12th, you will not be allowed to participate in your sport. If you have any questions please see Kelly Carr.”
This notice to students was a violation of the law. The law on ASB cards is very clear:
“The board of directors of any common school district may establish and collect a fee from students and nonstudents as a condition to their attendance at any optional noncredit extracurricular event of the district which is of a cultural, social, recreational, or athletic nature: PROVIDED, That in so establishing such fee or fees, the district shall adopt regulations for waiving and reducing such fees in the cases of those students whose families, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees and may likewise waive or reduce such fees for nonstudents of the age of sixty-five or over who, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees”.
Let me accent a few points in this law:
“may establish and collect a fee … at any optional noncredit extracurricular event”
Point one very simply means that the school CANNOT collect a fee at an event where any students are required to attend for a class that provides a credit.Threatening to kick a student out of a class for not paying a fee is flat out illegal.
– In Colville, sports used to apply for a PE credit.
– If the band is required to attend football games as part of their grade it means that the school cannot legally require people to pay a fee at the gate. They can, however, collect voluntary fees.
PROVIDED, That … the district shall adopt regulations for waiving AND reducing such fees in the cases of those students whose families, by reason of their low income, would have difficulty in paying the entire amount of such fees.
Point two establishes that the school district is required to have a regulation that reduces and waives the fee entirely for low income members of the community.
We sent a copy of this law to the school district and we were told they would look into it. Next thing we know, two things happened.
- Students could no longer use high school sports as a PE credit.
- ASB fees were raised. Below is the chart the school board approved in their June 26, 2013 meeting agenda item 5.12 on BoardDocs http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/colsd/Board.nsf/public):
|School||CurrentASB Fee||ProposedASB Fee||Proposed ReducedASB Fee|
School Board Directors Sid Green, Sandy Moore, and Sarah Newman approved the changes. Clearly there is no waiver of the fees for the low income families. That’s odd because wasn’t the levy we just voted in supposed to pay for that?
Where’s the “free” waiver for the low income families? And why didn’t our school board think it was important enough to include for the 52.7 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches?
For low income families, the choice isn’t
“This OR That”
“If this, then NONE of that”.
Here is a letter I received from the Washington State Auditor’s office as a response from a formal complaint:
This letter clearly states:
“Colville School District has been improperly collecting fees for ASB cards from high school students who were participating in extracurricular activities, such as football, basketball, cheerleading and volleyball where they may also satisfy physical education credit required for graduation. Also ASB funds were spent to buy equipment for these activities which would not be appropriate if students were receiving academic credit.”
I have a few questions about the decision our school board made:
– Is it ok for a school district, with a budget of 18 million dollars to give the impression to low income families that they have to pay money to participate in activities?
– Is the decision by the school board the best for ALL children in our district?
– What made the school board decide to ignore the portion of the law that states their need to waive fees for low income families?
– Does the school have any plans to refund ASB fees to the all the families whose students paid a fee and received a grade for playing sports?
– Does the school have any plans to refund ASB fees to all the low income people who were asked to pay instead of given a waived fee?
– Will the board try to claim ignorance of the law?
I can assure you the board knew the law very well when they made this decision. My husband received a letter from the Washington State Auditor Troy Kelly dated June 6, 2013. In part this letter states:
“- The District has not adopted regulations waiving and reducing the fees charged to students of low-income families for attendance at optional noncredit extracurricular events as required by RCW 28A.325.010.
The District does not have a policy for reducing or eliminating fees for students from low-income families. The District plans to develop and follow a policy to meet this state law requirement for the 2013-2014 school year.“
The statement “The District plans to” means that the Auditor spoke to the school district and received a response back. Let me repeat that the law was voted on and passed the school board on June 26, 2013. That’s 20 days after the Auditors letter was written, and after the school district was informed of the law by the Auditor.
Does this mean our school board directors think they don’t have to follow the law?