, , ,


Guest Writer Sally Smith (Sally Smith Biography)

Once again, the California Department of Education determined the San Diego Unified School District violated the law protecting students from being exploited for money.

As I previously wrote on District Deeds “Public Education Must Be FREE!!!“:

All adults should insure that no child is labeled as a deadbeat or excluded from any school course or activity.

The California Department of Education found SDUSD in violation of the law which prohibits teachers from awarding free homework passes, extra credit for 100% of  class participation of students procuring donations, and free recess as prizes for fundraising. A district circular was posted regarding California Education Code section 29011(b)(4) states:

A school district or school shall not offer course credit or privileges related to educational activities in exchange for money or donations of goods or services from a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians,


The SDUSD was ORDERED by California Department of Education (CDE) to:

notify all elementary school principals that course credit and privileges related to educational activities may not be offered or awarded as prizes for fundraising donations

Instead of acknowledging that the ruling was valid for ALL SDUSD families, the General Counsel Andra Donovan and Supt. Cindy Marten, decided to NOT INFORM Middle School and High School families of their rights and selectively send the notification to ONLY Elementary Schools at the expense of ALL SDUSD Stakeholder rights!

Unfortunately this is a very typical action by Donovan and Marten to overtly  reject Stakeholder rights through lack of transparency and collaboration.

On behalf of ALL SDUSD Stakeholders, here is the OFFICIAL notification:

Prizes SDUSD circular-page-001

Here is the PDF: Prizes SDUSD circular

IN ALL SDUSD SCHOOLS, student fees cannot be charged for field trips, cheerleading uniforms, pencils, crayons, notebooks, science project supplies, clay, IB tests and other supplies. If a teacher requires 5-subject spiral notebooks, thumb drives  or other items then the School Site must provide it for all students. This is well-established law but ALREADY parents are receiving emails with student fees for sports and school supplies.

One of the most common complaints is the new “optional” field trip…a way for the SDUSD to HIDE Family Rights.

Parents are told that the field trip is optional so students would have to pay if they wanted to participate. If the parents did not pay, the teacher kept sending the “donation” form in the child’s backpack. ALL SDUSD sanctioned field trips are part of Student education and CANNOT be optional based on cost so ALL students have the right to go without a fee.

Uniform Complaint Procedure

If your Student is victimized by the SDUSD through improper fees, a Uniform Complaint (UC) should be filed. Here are some suggestions on how to file the UC.

The UC:

  • May be filed using your name or anonymously.  If anonymous, you can send it via an alias email.
  • Should include all evidence including relevant emails, flyers sent by the teacher, forms requesting donations and receipts.
  • Can be sent to the Principal the SDUSD Customer Service Office, the SDUSD Fraud Hotline, Supt. Cindy Marten your Board of Education Member or ALL of the above.
  • Should be followed up by requesting updates for resolution of the issue using your preferred email address…even your alias email.
  • MUST be responded to by the SDUSD.

You can find the UC via the District Deeds Complaints Page under SDUSD Complaints Forms.

Uniform Complaints are IMPORTANT and they WORK!

It is these Uniform Complaints that have resulted in more SDUSD provided musical instruments being purchased, caps and gowns being provided for graduating seniors, and 2 free transcripts for graduates and refunds to parents for illegal student fees by the SDUSD, but still the San Diego Unified School District has continued to be found in violation of  the law several times…so be alert!


If the activity is connected with a curricular or extracurricular program then all students must be able to participate. Extra credit for attending a football game or bringing in canned foods to the teacher is impermissible. San Diego Unified was required to send a letter to all families whose children were offered extra credit for bringing toys to the teacher and other such rewards for donations.

Below are some laws regarding student fees.

Education Code 38118:

Writing and drawing paper, pens, inks, blackboards, blackboard erasers, crayons, lead pencils, and other necessary supplies for the use of the schools, shall be furnished under direction of the governing boards of the school districts.

Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899 , 201

The main thing to remember is DON”T GIVE UP!  It takes time for the SDUSD to admit they are wrong but nothing makes them sit up and take notice quicker than a ruling from the California Department of Education.

Good Luck!!!


District Deeds Postscript:

Over the years we have been in the SDUSD we have realized that Teachers many times do not receive the supplies they need to run their classes successfully.   The SDUSD neglects to fund supplies and forces the Principals and Teachers to find ways to fund needed items through improper means or pay for it themselves.

This is UNFAIR to the School Site Employees…and needs to STOP!

If you find that you are being asked by a teacher or a school to contribute money or supplies on items that the SDUSD should LEGALLY supply, collaborate with the Teacher, Principal and other Parents/Guardians to DEMAND those supplies from Supt, Marten and your Board of Education Member.  

If you are unsure how to proceed, send District Deeds an email at districtdeeds@gmail.com and we will help you decide what to do.  



  • Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!

Please Click the Link Below and sign the Petition Today and READ the COMMENTS to Support the REMOVAL of Marten by SDUSD Stakeholders! 

FIRE San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten Immediately!

  • You want to be sure you don’t miss an issue of District Deeds, click the “follow” button below and you will get an email automatically when an article is published on District Deeds.