|Action||Incorporate provisions on fees and charges as new section of 8VAC 20-720|
|Comment Period||Ends 7/26/2010|
The proposed regulations are a major step in finally correcting the problem that too many school systems have imposed fees on classes and activities that children in low income families cannot afford to pay. While our Virginia Constitution guarantees a free public education, and the Virginia Code provides for free text books, low income children in many school districts have been excluded from classes and activities because they couldn't afford to pay the local school system's fees.
The proposed regulations need some refinement to fully actualize the promise of the Virginia Constitution of a free public education. First, the regulations should explicitly require local school systems to provide clear, conspicuous written notice that they can apply for a fee waiver, including directions as to how to do so, each time a fee is charged. Second, fee waivers should be made available for all activities, whether mandatory, elective, or optional. No student should be excluded from a school educational activity because of an inability to pay. FInally, the regulations should explicitly prohibit school systems from withholding class schedules or excluding students from basic educational functions such as graduation ceremonies or field trips for non-payment of fees. Teachers should not forced to be debt collectors for their students. With these changes, the proposed regulations will be a powerful force for making a truly free public education a reality for our low-income students.