California State Legislature
|Bill Title||Pupils: collection of debt.|
|Hispanic Sponsors||CA Assemb. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-CA-080); CA Assemb. Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-CA-065)|
|NHCSL Task Force||
|Primary Issue Area||Education|
|Session||2017-2018 Regular Session|
Existing law provides that a pupil enrolled in a public school is prohibited from being required to pay a pupil fee, as defined, for participation in an educational activity, as defined. The Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 prohibits certain local educational agencies, as defined, that provide school meals through the federal National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program from taking any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees. The act authorizes a local educational agency to attempt to collect unpaid school meal fees from a parent or guardian, but prohibits the local educational agency from using a debt collector, as defined. This bill would enact the Public School Fair Debt Collection Act. The act would provide that a pupil or former pupil, unless emancipated at the time the debt is incurred, can never owe or be billed for a debt owed to a public school or school district, county office of education, charter school, or state special school. The act would prohibit those educational entities from taking negative actions against a pupil or former pupil because of a debt owed to the educational entity, including, among other things, denying or withholding grades or transcripts, or denying or withholding a diploma. The act would require those educational entities to provide an itemized invoice, including specified information, for any amount owed by the parent or guardian on behalf of a pupil or former pupil before pursuing payment of the debt and to provide a receipt to a parent or guardian for each payment made to the educational entity for any amount owed by the parent or guardian on behalf of the pupil or former pupil. The act would prohibit a debt collector, as defined, from reporting debt owed by a parent or guardian to a credit reporting agency if the debt collector is contracted with one of those educational entities for the purpose of pursuing repayment of any debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil, and the bill would prohibit those educational entities from selling debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil. The bill would provide that any waiver by a parent, guardian, pupil, or former pupil of the these provisions is contrary to public policy and is unenforceable and void. The bill would provide that these provisions do not apply to debt owed as a result of vandalism or to cover the replacement cost of public school or school district books, supplies, or property loaned to a pupil that the pupil fails to return or that are willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise injured, except if the pupil is a current or former homeless child or youth, as defined, or a current or former foster youth, as defined, and would authorize a public school or school district to offer a pupil or former pupil, with the permission of the parent or guardian of the pupil or former pupil, alternative, nonmonetary forms of compensation to settle such debt, as provided. By imposing additional duties on school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.