California ELL Discipline

Published on May 2016 | Categories: Types, School Work | Downloads: 15 | Comments: 0 | Views: 88
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parents guide to school discipline



Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?

Local School Boards/DistrictsWrite Policies that Principals
Must Follow .

Principals- Must maintain good discipline
in schools.

California requires that “[a]ll students . . . comply with the regulations, pursue the required course of
study, and submit to the authority of the teachers of the schools.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48908.
Students are required to follow the authority of teachers and school regulations.
In addition to the fundamental right to an education, children also have “the right to an effective public
school education,” which includes the constitutional right to be safe and secure while at school. CAL.
EDUC. CODE § 35183; see also CAL. CONST. art. I, § 28(a)(7). School districts write statutes and implement
regulations which help ensure that students remain safe and secure in schools and receive an effective
In California, it is the principal’s responsibility to maintain good discipline in the school.

Under what circumstances can a student be suspended or expelled?
California state law gives the superintendent or school principal authority to suspend or expel a student
for any of the violations listed within sections 48900, 48900.2, 48900.3, 48900.4, and 48900.7 of the
California Education Code:
Causing, attempting to cause, or threatening to cause physical injury
Alcohol/Intoxicants/Controlled Substances
Substance in Lieu of Alcohol/Intoxicants/Controlled Substances

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Drug Paraphernalia
Tobacco or Nicotine Products
Robbery and Extortion
Property Damage
Property Theft
Obscenity or Habitual Profanity/Vulgarity
Disruption or Defiance
Sexual Harassment
Hate Violence
Threats and Intimidation
Terroristic Threats
CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.5, 48915.
Suspension and expulsion should be used only as a last resort when other means of correcting behavior
have not brought about proper conduct.

In what ways may a child be suspended?
In School Suspension (ISS) by the Teacher: “A teacher may suspend any student from class, for any of
the acts listed in Section 48900, for the day of the suspension and the day following.” CAL. EDUC. CODE §
48910(a). If a teacher places the student in ISS, the teacher must immediately report the suspension to
the principal and send the student to the principal for appropriate action. The teacher must also consult
with the principal regarding a “due process” conference. This conference includes several steps:

Parent-Teacher Conference: The teacher, principal, or principal’s designee must ask the
student’s parent or guardian to attend a parent-teacher conference about the suspension.
Whenever possible, a school counselor or school psychologist may attend the conference. At
the request of either the teacher or parent/guardian, the principal shall also attend the
conference. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48910(a).
Removal from Classroom: During the suspension, the suspended student cannot return to class
without the teacher or principal’s permission. The student will not be placed in another regular
class during this suspension period. The principal or principal’s designee will plan for the

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completion and distribution of regular suspension forms as necessary. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
Teacher Referral for Suspension: In addition to placing the student in ISS, a teacher may also
refer a student for a formal suspension. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48910(c).

Formal or Out of School Suspension: The principal, the principal’s designee, and the district
superintendent of schools have the authority to discipline a student with formal, or out of school,
suspension. In these cases, the student may be suspended from school for a maximum of 5 consecutive
school days for any single action that a district considers to be a reason for suspension pursuant to
California state law. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48911.

Students involved in the formal suspension process must be provided due process. CAL. EDUC.
CODE §§ 48900 et seq.
A student may not be suspended from school for more than 20 school days in any school year. If
the student transfers schools, the student may not be suspended from school for more than 30
school days in any school year. Any suspensions by the student while enrolled in another school
district may be counted toward his/her total number of suspensions for that school year. CAL.
EDUC. CODE § 48903.

What is the process for formal suspension?
Referral: A teacher or other school employee refers the student to the principal, the principal’s
designee, or the district superintendent for formal suspension.
Required Informal Conference: The principal, the principal’s designee, or the district superintendent of
schools must first hold an informal conference with the student, and whenever possible, the school
employee who referred the student for formal suspension. At this conference, which can be conducted
in person at the school or over the phone, the principal, the principal’s designee, or the district
superintendent of schools informs the student of the reason for the suspension and the evidence
leading to the suspension. The principal must give the student an opportunity to present his or her own
evidence in defense.
Suspension without an Informal Conference: The school may formally suspend a student without the
informal conference only if it is determined that an emergency situation exists. This can occur if the
principal decides that the situation creates a clear and present danger to the lives, safety, or health of
students or staff. If a student is suspended without an informal conference, both the student and the
parent/guardian must be notified of the student’s right to a conference and the student’s right to return
to school for the conference.
Timing of Informal Conference in Emergency Situations: The school is required to then hold the informal
conference within 2 school days, unless the student waives his/her right to the informal conference or is
physically unable to attend, in which case the school must hold the informal conference as soon as the
student is physically able to return to school for the conference.

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Police Notification and Investigation: If a student is recommended for suspension for any reason that
requires police notification, the school may contact the police, and a school police officer may be
allowed to investigate the situation and possibly detain the student.
Hearing Results in Student’s Favor: If, after hearing the student’s version of events and examining any
evidence which is presented, the principal determines a suspension is not required, the student shall
either return to his/her regular placement or be referred to an alternative program.
Assignment Completion During Suspension: If the principal determines that a suspension is required, the
student’s teacher(s) may require that the student complete assignments during the suspension period.
Additionally, the parent or guardian may request class assignments and tests during the suspension
Parental Notification: The school should make reasonable efforts to contact the student’s parent or
guardian by phone at the time of the suspension. If the student is suspended from school, the parent
shall be notified in writing.
CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48902, 48906, 48911(c), (d), 48913.

What are the consequences if a parent/guardian fails to attend the
A student shall not be punished because his/her parent/guardian did not attend a conference with
school officials. Reinstatement of the student does not depend upon his/her parent/guardian attending
the conference. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48911(f).

What other obligations does the school have during a suspension?
The school must update the student’s disciplinary history to reflect the suspension.
In addition to updating the student’s discipline history, the school shall make a reasonable effort to
contact the student’s parent/guardian in person or by phone at the time of the suspension and must
also mail a “Report on Suspension” notice to the parent or guardian. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.8, 48911.

What does the “Report on Suspension” notice include?
A statement of facts leading to the decision to suspend the student;
The date and time when the student can return to school;
Information about the rights of the student or parent/guardian to request an appeal of the suspension;
Information about the rights of parents/guardians to have access to the student’s records;
A request that the parent/guardian meet with school officials on or before the 3rd consecutive day of the
suspension, at which time all matters related to the suspension are discussed; and
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A notice that state law requires parents/guardians to respond to these requests without delay.
CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.8, 48911.
In School Suspension (ISS) by the Principal: A student who is suspended “may be assigned, by the
principal or the principal’s designee, to a supervised suspension classroom for the entire period of
suspension if the student poses no imminent danger or threat to the campus, other students, or staff, or
if an action to expel the student has not been initiated.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48911.1(a).

Students in ISS shall be separated from other students at the school during the suspension
Students are responsible for contacting their teachers to receive assignments, and the teacher
shall provide all assignments and tests that the student will miss during the suspension period.
If no work is assigned, the ISS supervisor shall assign schoolwork.
When a student is assigned to ISS, the school shall notify his/her parent/guardian in person or
by phone, and if the suspension period lasts longer than 1 class period, the school shall also
notify the student’s parent/guardian in writing.

Cal. Educ. Code § 48911.1.

What is the process for expelling a student?
The governing board of each school district shall establish rules and regulations governing procedures
for the expulsion of students. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918.
Expulsion Hearing: Each student is entitled to an expulsion hearing to be held within 30 school days
after the date the principal or the superintendent of schools determines that the student has committed
any of the acts listed in Section 48900 of the California Education Code. The student may request, in
writing, one expulsion hearing postponement of less than 30 calendar days. Any additional
postponement may be granted at the discretion of the governing board of the school district. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 48918(a)(1).
Evidence: A decision to expel must be supported by substantial evidence that the student committed
the offense and may only be based upon evidence presented at the hearing. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(f)
& (h).
Rehabilitation Plan: The governing board is required to recommend a rehabilitation plan for a student
at the time of the expulsion order. The rehabilitation plan should include a periodic review plan and
assessment plan for the period of readmission. The plan may also include recommendations for
improved academic performance, tutoring, special education assessments, job training, counseling,
employment, community service, or other rehabilitative programs. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48916(b).
Timeline for Decision: Within 10 school days after the conclusion of a hearing by the governing board,
the governing board shall decide whether to expel the student, unless the student requests in writing a
decision postponement. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(a)(2). If the hearing is held by a hearing officer or an
© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


administrative panel, or if the district governing board does not meet on a weekly basis, the governing
board shall decide whether to expel the student within 40 school days after the date of the student's
removal from school for the incident for which the recommendation for expulsion was made, unless the
student requests, in writing, that the decision be postponed. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(a)(2).
Governing Board’s Decision: No matter how the expulsion hearing is conducted, the final action to expel
must be taken by the governing board at a public meeting. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(j).

When is expulsion recommended and when is it required?
Mandatory Recommendation and Mandatory Expulsion: The principal, principal’s designee, or
superintendent of schools must immediately suspend a student and recommend the student’s expulsion
to the governing board for the following offenses:

Possessing, selling, or furnishing a firearm;
Brandishing a knife;
Unlawfully selling a controlled substance; or
Sexual assault/battery.

Upon recommendation of the principal, principal’s designee, or superintendent of schools and a finding
that any of the above offenses occurred, the governing board must expel the student. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
Mandatory Recommendation and Non-Mandatory Expulsion: Unless the principal, principal’s designee,
or superintendent of schools finds that expulsion is inappropriate due to particular circumstances, s/he
must recommend a student’s expulsion to the governing board for the following offenses:

Causing serious physical injury to another;
Possession of certain weapons;
Possession of certain controlled substances;
Robbery and extortion; or
Assault and battery of a school employee.

The governing board may order expulsion for these offenses upon the recommendation of the principal,
superintendent of schools, hearing officer, or administrative panel if
(1) other means of correction are not possible or have repeatedly failed to correct the behavior, and/or
(2) due to the nature of the violation, the presence of the student causes a continuing danger to the
physical safety of the student or others.
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48915(a)-(b).
Non-Mandatory Recommendation and Non-Mandatory Expulsion: Upon the recommendation of the
principal, superintendent of schools, hearing officer, or administrative panel, the governing board may
order expulsion for any other offenses for which a student may be suspended or expelled if
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(1) other means of correction are not possible or have repeatedly failed to correct the behavior, and/or
(2) due to the nature of the violation, the presence of the student causes a continuing danger to the
physical safety of the student or others.
Cal. Educ. Code § 48915(e).

What notice is the school required to provide?
The student and his/her parent or guardian must receive written notice of an expulsion hearing at least
10 days before the hearing. This notice must include the following information:
Date and place of hearing;
Facts and charges of the proposed expulsion;
A copy of the district disciplinary rules related to the alleged violation;
Explanation of the obligation to inform other school districts in which the student seeks to enroll of the
student’s status;
Explanation of the right of the student or student’s parent or guardian to appear in person, or to obtain
and be represented by an attorney;
Explanation of the right to inspect and obtain copies of all documents to be used at the hearing;
Explanation of the right to confront and question all witnesses who testify at the hearing and to
question all other evidence presented; and
Explanation of the right to present evidence on the student’s behalf, including witnesses.
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(b).

How can a student re-enter school after expulsion?
Expulsion Order: An expulsion order remains in effect until the governing board orders readmission of
the student. At the time an expulsion is ordered, other than for mandatory expulsions, the student will
be reviewed for readmission to the school or district by the governing board on a date no later than the
last day of the semester of which the expulsion occurred. If the expulsion is mandatory, the governing
board must set a date 1 year from the date the expulsion occurred (but may set an earlier date on a
case-by-case basis). CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48916(a).
Readmission Process: At the time of the governing board’s expulsion order, the student and the parent
or guardian will receive a description of the governing board’s readmission process, including the
process of required review for readmission. After completion of the readmission process, the governing
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board will readmit the student unless the governing board determines that the student has not met the
conditions of the rehabilitation plan or continues to pose a danger to others. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
Denial of Readmission: If the governing board denies readmission, it may either continue the student’s
placement in the alternative educational program initially selected or place the student in another
program that serves expelled students, including placement in a county community school. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 48916. The governing board must provide written notice to the expelled student and the
parent/guardian describing why the student was denied readmission into the regular school district
program, as well as the determination of the educational program for the expelled student. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 48916(e).

Is corporal punishment permitted at schools?
Corporal punishment was outlawed in California in 1986.
“No person employed by or engaged in a public school shall inflict, or cause to be inflicted corporal
punishment upon a student. Every resolution, bylaw, rule, ordinance, or other act or authority
permitting or authorizing the infliction of corporal punishment upon a student attending a public school
is void and unenforceable.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 49001(b).

Are there dress code requirements for schools?
Use of Reasonable Dress Codes: In California, a school district’s governing board may adopt policies that
allow schools to implement reasonable dress codes, including dress codes that require students to wear
school uniforms or prohibit gang-related clothing. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 35183(b).
What is a reasonable dress code? Under California law, the “adoption of a school wide uniform policy is
a reasonable way to provide some protection for students,” therefore, the California legislature has
provided that the “governing board of any school district may adopt or rescind a reasonable dress code
policy that requires pupils to wear a school wide uniform.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 35183(a)-(b).
Physical Education and Extracurricular Activities: Coaches and teachers may impose more strict dress
requirements to accommodate the special needs of certain sports and/or classes. However, a student’s
physical education class grade may not be adversely affected if the student does not wear standardized
physical education apparel because of circumstances beyond his/her control. The principal, staff,
students, parents, or guardians at each school may also establish reasonable dress and grooming
regulations for extracurricular or other special school activities. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 49066.
Protective Clothing: Sun-protective clothing, including hats, must be allowed for outdoor use during the
school day. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 35183.5.
6 Months’ Notice Requirement: A school wide dress code policy that requires students to wear a
uniform shall not be implemented with less than 6 months’ notice to parents. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
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Resources for Economically Disadvantaged Students: A school wide dress code policy that requires
students to wear a uniform shall not be implemented without available resources to assist economically
disadvantaged students. For economically disadvantaged students who cannot afford a uniform, the
school is required to provide resources to those students so they are able to comply with the policy.
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 35183(d).
Parental Choice: If the parent or guardian opts out of the uniform requirements, the student may not
be academically penalized, discriminated against, or denied attendance to school. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
Organizational Participation: In addition, the school dress code and/or uniform policy cannot preclude
students who participate in a nationally recognized youth organization, such as the ROTC, from wearing
organization uniforms on days that the organization has a scheduled meeting. CAL. EDUC. CODE §

What does zero tolerance mean?
While the term zero tolerance does not appear in California state law, school districts can determine
their own zero tolerance policies. The offenses that require a principal or designee to suspend and
recommend a student for expulsion who commits any of the following acts at school or at a school
activity off school grounds:
(1) possessing, selling, or otherwise furnishing a firearm,
(2) brandishing a knife at another person,
(3) selling a controlled substance,
(4) committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or sexual battery, or
(5) possessing an explosive.
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48915(c).

What behaviors require a suspension?
If a student’s behavior is a threat to the safety, health or emotional well-being of others, and previous
methods of prevention and intervention have been unsuccessful, the student will be suspended. CAL.
EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.5 et seq. The school’s authority to take action will be determined based on a
school investigation and will be limited to conduct that the student engaged in while on school grounds,
going to or from school, during the lunch period (on or off campus), or during, or while going to or from,
a school-sponsored activity. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(s). The following acts are grounds for suspension:
Assault/Battery: Causing, attempting to cause, or threatening to cause physical injury to another
person, including a school employee. Willfully using force or violence on another person. Also included
are attempted sexual assault, sexual assault, and sexual battery. Exceptions may be made in a situation
where witnesses and evidence support a case of self-defense. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900(a), (n).
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Weapons: Possessing, selling, or otherwise providing any weapon—including guns, knives, explosives,
or simulated weapons, including toys such as pellet, airsoft, paintball, and BB guns. This also applies to
the use of any object in a threatening manner, including traditional classroom supplies like pencils, pens,
and paperclips. Possession of any of these objects does not qualify for suspension if the student had
prior written consent from a certificated school employee and pre-approval by the principal. CAL. EDUC.
CODE §§ 48900(b), (m).
Alcohol/Intoxicants/Controlled Substances: Unlawfully possessing, using, selling, or otherwise providing
alcohol, intoxicants (including inhalants such as glue, paint, or liquid paper), or controlled substances,
including prescribed medications. This also includes being under the influence of alcohol, intoxicants, or
controlled substances. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(c)-(d).
Substance in Lieu of Alcohol/Intoxicants/Controlled Substances: Delivering, providing, or selling items
that are claimed to be alcohol, intoxicants, or controlled substances but are not such items. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 48900(d).
Drug Paraphernalia: Unlawfully possessing, offering, arranging for, or negotiating to sell any drug
paraphernalia. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(j).
Tobacco or Nicotine Products: Possessing, providing, or using tobacco, or any item containing tobacco
or nicotine products, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, clove cigarettes, smokeless tobacco,
snuff, chew packets, and betel. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(h).
Robbery or Extortion: Committing or attempting to commit a robbery or extortion. CAL. EDUC. CODE §
48900(e). Extortion occurs when threats are made with the intent to obtain money or something of
value. CAL. PENAL CODE § 518.
Property Damage: Causing or attempting to cause damage to school property or private property.
Parents or guardians are legally responsible to pay for any losses or damage to public property caused
by a student. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900(f), 48904. School property includes, but is not limited to,
electronic files and databases. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(u).
Property Theft: Stealing or attempting to steal school or private property, or receiving stolen property.
Parents may be required to pay for damages. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900(g), (l), 48904. School property
includes, but is not limited to, electronic files and databases. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(u).
Obscenity: Committing an obscene act or engaging in regular profanity, swearing, or vulgarity. CAL.
EDUC. CODE § 48900(j).
Disruption or Defiance: Disrupting school activities or otherwise refusing to follow the authority of
school personnel, including supervisors, teachers, school officials, or other school staff performing their
duties. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(k).
Sexual Harassment (Grades 4-12): Making unwelcome advances, requesting sexual favors, and other
verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sufficiently severe character. “Sufficiently severe” conduct is
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conduct that a reasonable person of the same gender as the victim considers to have a negative impact
on that individual’s academic performance or to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational
environment. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.2, 212.5.
Hate Violence (Grades 4-12): Causing, threatening to cause, attempting to cause, or participating in acts
of hate against people or property. This includes but is not limited to negative behaviors that target
members of a particular gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or the mentally or physically
challenged. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48900.3, 233(e).
Threats and Intimidation: Harassing, intimidating, or threatening a student who is a witness in a school
disciplinary proceeding for the purpose of preventing that student from being a witness, retaliating
against that student for being a witness, or both. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(o).
Harassment (Grades 4-12): Harassing, intimidating, or threatening a student or group of students, or
school personnel, with the actual or expected effect of disrupting class work, or creating substantial
disorder, or creating a hostile educational environment. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900.4.
Hazing: Engaging in, or attempting to engage in any activities used for initiation or pre-initiation into a
student organization or student body, or related activities, which causes or is likely to cause bodily
danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace, resulting in physical or mental harm to a
former, current, or prospective student. This applies to any student attending any school or school
event. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(q).
Bullying: Engaging in an act of bullying, including, but not limited to, cyber-bullying (discussed infra).
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(r).
Terroristic Threats: Engaging in making terroristic threats against school officials or school property, or
both. A “terroristic threat” includes any statement, whether written or oral, made by a person who
willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death, great bodily injury to another person, or
property damage in excess of $1,000, with the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a
threat, whether or not the person making the statement intends to actually carry the statement out.
CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900.7.

Is there a state policy on bullying?
All districts in California should continue to work to reduce discrimination, harassment, violence,
intimidation, and bullying and to improve student safety at schools.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 234. In addition,
“all students enrolled in state public schools have the inalienable right to attend classes on school
campuses that are safe, secure, and peaceful.” CAL. EDUC. CODE § 32261(a).
In California, acts of bullying (including electronic acts) are punishable by either suspension or a
recommendation for expulsion. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(r).

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How does California define bullying?
Bullying is defined as one or more acts by a student or group of students (grades 4 through 12), where
the “acts” include sexual harassment, hate violence, harassment, threats, or intimidation. CAL. EDUC.
CODE §§ 32261(f), 48900(r). The law also protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of
disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual
orientation in public schools which receive state financial assistance. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 220.
Harassment, threats, or intimidation by students, directed against school district personnel or other
students, which are “sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect
of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invading the rights of either school
personnel or pupils by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment” may result in
suspension or a recommendation of expulsion. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900.4.
Students are also protected against hazing the initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization
(even if the organization is not officially recognized by the school) which is likely to cause serious bodily
injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or
prospective student. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48900(q); see also CAL. PENAL CODE § 245.6

Who is considered an EL?
An English Learner, also known as a Limited English Proficient (“LEP”) student, is a student who does not
speak English or whose native language is not English and who is not currently able to perform ordinary
classroom work in English. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 306(a).
English Learners with disabilities are tested, but are allowed variations, accommodations, and/or
modifications as specified in their IEP or Section 504 plans. CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 56341.1(b), 56345(b)(2),
56385; CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 5, §§ 11516 et seq.; Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Assessment System Chart,
If a school district receives federal funds (Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(“ESEA”)), parents or guardians must be informed of the reasons for their student’s identification as an
English Learner, and of the need for placement in the specified program, within 30 days of the beginning
of school or within 2 weeks of placement in a language instruction program. For English Learners with
an IEP, the school must also notify and explain to the parents/guardians how the recommended
placement will help their children meet the objectives of the IEP.

What is the assessment test used for English Learners? What are
the procedures for the CELDT?
California and federal law require school districts to administer an English proficiency test to:
(1) newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English; and
(2) students who are English Learners as part of their annual assessment.
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For California public school students, this test is the California English Language Development Test
(“CELDT”). It tests the student’s proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the English
Because it is a federal and state requirement, parents are not permitted to “opt out” of the CELDT. CAL.
EDUC. CODE §§ 313, 60810; Elementary and Secondary Education Act, tits. I, III; see also Cal. Dep’t of
Educ., Frequently Asked Questions About the California English Language Development Test (CELDT),

When must schools give the CELDT?
A Home Language Survey is completed by the parent/guardian when a student is first enrolled in school.
To determine a student’s official language classification, a student whose primary language is one other
than English must be assessed for English proficiency within 30 calendar days after the school year
begins, or if during the school year, within 2 weeks of the student’s placement in an instructional
program. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 52164.1 Schools must also give the CELDT once each year to all English
learners until they are English proficient based on criteria established by the local governing board. CAL.
EDUC. CODE § 52164.19(a).

What instructional programs are available for English Learners?
Enriched English Instructional Services: English Learners qualify for enriched English instructional
services until they have acquired a good working knowledge of English and are meeting or approaching
grade level standards on core subject areas. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 305.
Use of Language Instruction: Schools must place students in a program in which nearly all classroom
instruction is in English but with instruction designed for children who are learning the language. CAL.
EDUC. CODE §§ 305, 306(d).
Requesting Bilingual Education: A parent/guardian may request placement of the student in classes
where English and other subjects are taught using bilingual education techniques. In order for students
to participate in this program, parents must visit the school each year and sign a waiver form. CAL. EDUC.
CODE §§ 310-11.
When to Stop Providing Services: School districts are required to continue to provide additional and
appropriate educational services to English Learners until they have demonstrated English-language
skills comparable to that of the district’s average native English-language speakers and have recouped
any academic deficits which may have been incurred in other areas of the core curriculum. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 313; CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 5 § 11302.

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


Does California have a policy for identifying English Learners as
having a disability?
The California Education Code does not specifically provide for identifying English Learners who may
have a disability.

Helpful documents or links
Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Frequently Asked Questions About the California English Language Development
Cal. Dep’t of Educ., California English Language Development Test (CELDT ),
Cal. Dep’t of Educ., English Learners in California Frequently Asked Questions (2006),

Does California have any state policy on ability grouping?
California does not have any requirements for schools to “track” their students. However, school
districts may do so, including the creation of gifted and talented education programs.

Does the state guarantee students access to any specific classes or
quality of classes (such as college prep, etc.)?
Although California recognizes the need to align its classes with its college expectations and the needs of
a changing economic landscape, it does not guarantee students access to any specific classes.
However, the University of California (“UC”) and California State University (“CSU”) systems require
certain courses (known as “A-G requirements”) as a prerequisite to admission to both the UC and CSU
systems. Individual schools must be approved to offer the A-G requirements, which generally include:

History/Social Science: Two years, including one year of world history, cultures, and historical
geography and one year of U.S. history or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of civics
or American government;
English: Four years of college preparatory English with no more than one year of English as a
Second Language (“ESL”);
Mathematics: Three years;
Laboratory Science: Two years of laboratory science in at least two of biology, chemistry, and
Language other than English: Two years of the same language other than English;
Visual and Performing Arts: One year, including dance, drama/theater, music, or visual arts; and
College Preparatory Elective: One year (two semesters), chosen from additional “A-F” courses.

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


Univ. of Cal., Admission: A-G Courses,
Does the state require schools to have Gifted & Talented programs? Are there any admission
The state does not require school districts to offer gifted and talented programs. The Gifted and
Talented Education (“GATE”) program funding is now included in the Local Control Funding Formula
(“LCFF”), so funding for this program is now determined at the local level.
Identifying Gifted & Talented Students: Each school district is responsible for developing a method for
identifying students as gifted and talented.

Does the state have common core standards?
California adopted the Common Core State Standards in August 2010 which will be fully implemented in
the next couple of years. The Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California
was presented by the State Board of Education to the Governor and Legislature, thus fulfilling Section
60605.8(h) of the California Education Code. The Plan describes a sequence of significant milestones.
Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Common Core State Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California (April

What are the Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”) are educational standards that describe what students
should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade.
The CCSS for English-language arts are divided into four strands: reading, writing, speaking and
listening, and language. Standards for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects
provide additional specificity about the application of reading and writing standards to subject area
content. Vocabulary acquisition and practice are threaded throughout the four strands. Technology is
used to gather and present information.
The CCSS for mathematics are organized by domain. Students in grades K-5 are expected to achieve
mastery in whole numbers arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and fractions.
Students in grades 6-7 extend their work in fractions and develop concepts such as rational numbers
and proportional relationships. Students in grade 8 should be moving forward to higher math, including
Algebra I. The high school standards identify the mathematics that all students should study to be
college and career ready and are organized by conceptual categories, including number and quantity,
algebra, functions, modeling, geometry, and statistics and probability. The CCSS also includes standards
for Algebra I, Calculus, and Advanced Placement Probability and Statistics.
Cal. Dep’t of Educ., Overview of the Common Core State Standards,

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


The California Common Core Standards may be found here: For
answers to frequently asked questions, see

What are California’s graduation requirements?
The California Education Code establishes the minimum requirements for graduation from California
high schools. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 51225.3.
Required Test: All public school students are required to pass the California High School Exit
Examination (“CAHSEE”) to earn a high school diploma. CAL. EDUC. CODE § 60851(a).

How many times can a student take the test?
All students must take the exam only once in tenth grade. If students pass one part but not the other,
students only need to retake the part they failed. There are two opportunities in eleventh grade to take
any sections of the test not passed. Each school district must provide eligible twelfth grade students at
least three opportunities to take any sections that the student has not passed. Students may take parts
of the test not passed up to five times in twelfth grade. CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 5, §§ 1204, 1204.5.

Are there any exemptions to the test requirement?
Eligible students who have an IEP or Section 504 plan are exempted from this requirement. CAL. EDUC.
CODE § 60852.3.

What are the required classes for graduation?
Each student must complete the following to receive a diploma:
English: 3 year-long courses;
Math: 2 year-long courses;
Social Studies: 3 year-long courses total – including 1 year-long course of U.S. history and geography; 1
year-long course of world history, culture, and geography; 1 semester of American government and
civics; and 1 semester of economics;
Science: 2 year-long courses, including biological and physical sciences;
Foreign Language/Visual Arts/Performing Arts/Career Technical Education: a 1 year-long course of a
foreign language, visual or performing arts, or career technical education; and
Physical Education: two years, unless the student is exempt under certain provisions under Section
51241 of the California Education Code.
Cal. Educ. Code § 51225.3.

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law



Relevant links on state content and curriculum standards:
Graduation requirements and those of local universities -
California high school exit examination -

California has several Parent Information and Resource Centers, which help implement successful and
effective parental involvement policies and programs and activities that lead to improvements in
student academic achievement. They target specific communities and provide a variety of services.
Contact Information
California State Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC 1)
c/o California Association for Bilingual Education
16033 E. San Bernardino Road
Covina, CA 91722
Telephone: 626-814-4441 ext. 103
Email Address: [email protected]
Summary of Services: The overall goals of Project INSPIRE (part of PIRC 1) are to:
(a) provide high quality parent education and training to parents throughout California with an emphasis
on outreach and services to parents of California’s most disadvantaged students, low income, minority
and English Learners;
(b) build the capacity of schools and districts serving disadvantaged students to maintain high quality
parent education, training, and leadership programs in the future; and
(c) build the capacity of parent leaders to provide training to other parents and to effectively participate
in local school reform efforts.
California Parent Information Resource Center (PIRC 2)
c/o Cambridge Academics
4300 Sisk Road, Suite D
Modesto, CA 95356
Telephone: 209-545-9766
Email Address: [email protected]

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


Summary of Services: Direct services are provided to parents in selected communities in Merced and
Stanislaus Counties, West Sacramento and San Bernardino areas. It works with mostly new immigrant
Contact information
California Department of Education
1430 N. Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
Telephone: 916-319-0800
Contact information for the California office
San Francisco Office
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: 415-486-5555
TDD: 877-521-2172
Email Address: [email protected]

© 2015 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


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