Thursday, July 13, 2017

Schools Have An Obligation To Provide Translated Documents

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

California is a diverse state, with many different cultures, nationalities and languages being spoken.  Residents' children, regardless of language spoken by students or their parents, have the right to attend California public schools.  Still, while non-English speaking students may attend classes (e.g. Spanish/English transition classes) which help them transition to English, their parents may remain non-English speakers.  How do they stay informed about their child's school progress, development, and any issues which might arise?

Education Code §48985  mandates that documents be translated for non-English speaking parents if pupils speak a language other than English and total more than 15% of a school's population:

"(a) If 15 percent or more of the pupils enrolled in a public school that provides instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, speak a single primary language other than English, as determined from the census data submitted to the department pursuant to Section 52164 in the preceding year, all notices, reports, statements, or records sent to the parent or guardian of any such pupil by the school or school district shall, in addition to being written in English, be written in the primary language, and may be responded to either in English or the primary language."

If pupils speaking a language other than English total more than 15% of a school's population, documents must be sent to their family in English and their native language (e.g. Spanish, Cantonese, Arabic, Hmong, Russian or other language depending on the population of the school).  Such documents should include report cards, testing notices, policies, enrollment paperwork, discipline notices and many other communications to the students' families.

Education Code §51101.1 further addresses the rights of parents to translated documents

"(a) A parent or guardian’s lack of English fluency does not preclude a parent or guardian from exercising the rights guaranteed under this chapter. A school district shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all parents and guardians of pupils who speak a language other than English are properly notified in English and in their home language, pursuant to Section 48985, of the rights and opportunities available to them pursuant to this section.
(b) Parents and guardians of English learners are entitled to participate in the education of their children pursuant to Section 51101 and as follows
...
(2) To be given any required written notification, under any applicable law, in English and the pupil’s home language pursuant to Section 48985."

I have seen non-English speaking parents' rights breached via school district failure to provide translated documents.  This has included improperly translated expulsion hearing documents, suspension forms, report cards, and other legally mandated documents.  This prevents the non-English speaking parents from being able to read and understand the documents they receive and lessens their ability to participate in their children's education.

If you know someone who is not an English speaker, be sure they know their rights to translated educational documents pursuant to state law.  We all benefit if parents are engaged in their kids' education.


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cats and Dogs Released From Public Colleges: The Obligation To Allow Adoption After The Experiment Is Over

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Did you know that cats and dogs are used as test subjects in colleges and universities?  People often think of rats, mice and primates as animals used in research, but typical "pets" are sadly also used (see graphic article on cat experimentation in colleges).  What happens to the animals if they are still well AFTER a public college is through with them?  Are they euthanized or do they have to be placed in new homes?  It depends on their condition.

Per California Education Code §66017.7, animals which are "suitable for adoption" after the school is through with them, do not have to be put to death.  Rather, they are to be placed up for adoption by the college or given to an adoption agency to place.

This section states in part:

"(a) A public postsecondary educational institution or independent institution of higher education, or employee or student thereof, that confines dogs or cats for the purposes set forth in Section 1650 of the Health and Safety Code, if the institution assesses the health of an animal and determines, after the completion of any testing or research, that the animal is suitable for adoption, the animal’s destruction is not required, and the animal is no longer needed, and if the institution’s existing procedures for adopting the animal do not result in an adoption, shall offer the dogs or cats to an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization for adoption prior to euthanizing those animals. A public postsecondary educational institution or independent institution of higher education that is required to offer dogs or cats to an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization under this section may enter into an agreement with an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization for the implementation of this section."

This does not prevent experimentation, but forces adoption after the tests are through and prevents the unnecessary killing of healthy cats and dogs.  If a public college or university is done with a dog or cat, and there is no reason the pet MUST be killed, the school is required to offer the cat or dog to an adoption agency to place if the college cannot find the animal a new home.

All creatures have an urge to survive and this law at least, is something.  Maybe these animals can find a home where tummy rubs, not needles, are used to stimulate them.

Later in the above code, it is indicated that such requirements do not apply to animals listed in Food and Agriculture Code 17006 which references animals that are ill and may not be healed or newborn animals who were "impounded without their mothers." 

I have gotten all my pets from local adoption groups and love every one of them.  I don't think any of my animals were experimented on.  Hopefully college-discarded cats and dogs will find loving homes when released from our local universities, maybe even with you.


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cyber Sexual Bullying: One More Reason To Boot Your Kids Out Of School

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
  
Cyber sexual bullying is now a suspendable or expellable offense in California schools.  Bullying already is an expellable offense, but apparently the legislature did not think "bullying" alone was broad enough.  As such, the legislature chose to add a new offense to the ever growing list of things a student may do wrong.  Now students may not bully and also use or reference sexually explicit electronic communications, which are covered by this new subcategory of bullying.

California Education Code §48900(r)(2)(iii) states:

"...“cyber sexual bullying” means the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording by a pupil to another pupil or to school personnel by means of an electronic act that has or can be reasonably predicted to have one or more of the effects described in [the Bullying section]. A photograph or other visual recording, as described above, shall include the depiction of a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photograph or other visual recording of a minor where the minor is identifiable from the photograph, visual recording, or other electronic act.
(II) For purposes of this clause, “cyber sexual bullying” does not include a depiction, portrayal, or image that has any serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value or that involves athletic events or school-sanctioned activities." [bracketed material added]

An act of cyber sexual bullying must be "bullying" and also sexual in nature as defined above.  

It is interesting that "incitement to disseminate" is an offense covered under this subsection.  This could mean a student who did not send or take an improper picture, but rather only "incited" someone to send or take it, could also potentially be guilty of an offense.  This sexual bullying can involve "sexting," where nude photographs of students are shared, presumably by others who are not authorized to share them.  

When Governor Brown signed this into law, a press release explained:

"Sexual bullying is a form of bullying commonly facing teenagers.  It is a behavior that can include harassing an individual or others through comments and actions that are sexual in nature. Furthermore, sexual bullying can occur in person or online.  The act of sexting, where sexual, nude or semi-nude images are exchanged electronically, has become a recent occurrence in the lives of young people, and can be a major form of sexual bullying, or cyber sexual bullying.  Approximately 20 percent of teenage boys and girls have sent a sext message, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics." 

In recent years, the long arm of the schools frequently attempts to reach acts outside school grounds, activities and hours, particularly with bullying.  It used to be that acts on the weekend stayed on the weekend.  However, if matters come into the school and cause a bullying environment, even if not intended to do so, it is possible the schools may try to punish the offending student(s) regardless of where the offending act(s) occurred.  Students beware.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.