A class-action lawsuit has been settled by education officials in California in the case of Cruz v. California, brought by public school students who had been assigned to fake classes that had them running errands for their teachers, sorting mail, socializing, and even going home before the end of the school day.
According to the plaintiffs, the classes, coupled with scheduling issues, left the students without course assignments and neglected to provide students at six high schools in the state with the quality education to which they were legally entitled, writes Emma Brown for The Washington Post.
The high schools in question are located in Oakland, Los Angeles and Compton, primarily enrolling minority and low-income students.
The settlement agreement requires state education officials to offer technical help to the high schools to fix their scheduling problems, while also getting rid of all fake courses, which had been called "College Class," "Adult Class," "Service," and "Home."
New legislation brought about as a result of the lawsuit must also be made public by the state. AB 1012, signed into law last month by Governor Jerry Brown, states that high schools may not place students in "any course period without educational content" for more than one week in a semester.
A new process was also created that will allow the state to investigate any school that enrolls a student in a non-educational course this spring, reports Joy Resmovits for The Los Angeles Times.
In addition, school officials must pay plaintiff attorney fees totaling $400,000. The suit was filed in May 2014 by Public Counsel and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California on behalf of the students.
The settlement "ensures that California's most vulnerable students will no longer be sent home or warehoused in contentless classes, and it communicates the message that the promise of equal education requires no less than a full day of instruction for all of California's students," said Kathryn Eidmann, a lawyer for Public Counsel.
Schools will be required to send their course enrollment data to the state for the next two years. After that time, the education department will be given 45 days to provide the plaintiffs with a summary of the number of students enrolled in the six high schools in question who participated in courses with no educational content.
The plaintiffs argued that the schools did not have the resources available to them to offer a full course load to all students, leaving some without the ability to enroll in the courses necessary to graduate within four years. They also said high administrative turnover created scheduling problems that left students without classes for weeks at a time.