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October 28th, 2014
Students Shouldn't Have To Pay For School Transcripts And Now They Don't In One San Diego Suburb.
California public schools are illegally charging fees for transcripts and parents need to object. LAUSD, the largest district in the state, charges $5. San Diego, the 2nd largest, provides 2 for free and then $3, but others charge as much as $20. My kids school charged $5.
CA Education Code 49065: Any school district may make a reasonable charge in an amount not to exceed the actual cost of furnishing copies of any pupil record; provided, however, that no charge shall be made for furnishing (1) up to two transcripts of former pupils' records or (2) up to two verifications of various records of former pupils. No charge may be made to search for or retrieve any pupil record.
Here's a section which talks about parents having the right to copies of school records under the same terms as 49065 (the section listed above) and reaffirms that schools can only charge for reproduction costs. It also adds a hardship exemption.
CA Education Code 56504: The parent shall have the right and
opportunity to examine all school records of his or her child and to receive copies pursuant to this section and to Section 49065 within five business days after the request is made by the parent, either orally or in writing.
A public agency may charge no more than the actual cost of
reproducing the records, but if this cost effectively prevents the parent from exercising the right to receive the copy or copies, the copy or copies shall be reproduced at no cost.
I approached my school district and provided them this information. They were receptive to my concern and were unaware of the law. They quickly changed the policy at all high schools in the district. All transcript requests are now free for current and former students. They deemed that collecting a few pennies per request was impractical.
Kids need transcripts to attend college or for employment verification. Those are the very goals that schools should have for their students. Building a paywall, even a small one, is counter productive. When taxes or fees are imposed it deters behavior and we want kids pursuing jobs and college. I hope you'll use this information to pressure your district to forgo fees and provide transcripts for free to all. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or have any success.
My contention is that ALL government documents should be provided to citizens at no additional cost beyond the taxes we already pay which are substantial. See Taxballoon.com. This should apply to birth certificates, marriage licenses, school transcripts, court records and all other government documents.