Lawsuit settlement seeks to ensure high school students receive adequate instructional time

gavelThe California Board of Education voted last week to settle a lawsuit alleging students at high schools in three California districts received significantly less learning time than other, more affluent children.

The settlement in the case of Cruz v. California, approved Thursday, calls for the state Department of Education to update its reporting system to ensure that all students receive an equitable education.

“We believe every student should have access to high-quality courses so they can succeed in 21st-century careers and college,” said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “This settlement reaffirms my commitment and the California Department of Education’s commitment to help identify and coordinate local resources for districts with significant problems scheduling students.”

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown separately approved Assembly Bill 1012, which affirmed that school districts in California will no longer be allowed to enroll high school students in classes with no educational content for more than one week per semester — or require students to re-take a class they have already completed, unless that class is designed to be taken more than once and presents new material.

In addition, schools will now need to report when students have one period in which they are sent home, not assigned a course, or assigned a course in which he or she assists a teacher but is not expected to complete curricular assignments. AB 1012 also provides for a complaint procedure to enable parents, students, teachers or the public to report unresolved scheduling issues.

Under the terms of the settlement, the state Department of Education must publicize the new law, which takes effect in the 2016-17 school year.