New education laws passed by California Legislature in 2017


This past year, dozens of bills related to education passed through the California legislature and received Gov. Jerry Brown’s signatures.

The new laws effect everything from public school instruction and curriculum to community college tuition, free or reduced-price school lunch, school facilities and school districts’ finances.

Here is a look at some of the major education legislation passed in California this year.

Community Colleges

AB 19: California College Promise

First-year, full-time students at all 114 California Community Colleges will be able to attend their first year of college for free, under Assembly Bill 19.

The California College Promise will waive students’ first year tuition fees as long as they are enrolled in 12 or more semester units and qualify for financial aid under a FAFSA or California Dream Act application.

AB 637: Cross-Enrollment in Online Education

Students enrolled at a California Community College will be able to cross-enroll in an online course offered by other campuses without additional tuition or fees.

Those who choose to take classes from colleges that are part of the Online Education Initiative Consortium would then have their enrollment data transferred to the “teaching college,” or the college they are taking the online course from.

AB 1018: Student Equity Plans

Assembly Bill 1018 will change the way community colleges approach their student equity plan as part of the Student Success and Support Program.

The categories of homeless, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are now required to be addressed in the student equity plans.

Colleges, Universities

AB 699 and AB21: Immigration and Citizenship Status

These bills will prohibit public school, community colleges, California State University and University of California campuses from collecting information or documents about the immigration status of students, faculty and staff and their families.

AB 990: Estimates of Off-Campus Housing Costs

Beginning Feb. 1, California State University will be required, and University of California campuses will be requested, to post information online about the market cost of a one-bedroom in the areas surrounding the campuses where students commonly live.

High Schools

AB 830:  High School Exit Exam

California officially abandoned its high school exit exam, following a two-year hiatus of the test beginning in 2015.

Students will no longer be required to pass the exit exam as a condition of receiving their diploma for graduation.

AB 10: Feminine Hygiene

Middle Schools and high schools with at least 40 percent of low-income students will be required to provide free feminine hygiene products in half of the school’s bathrooms.

AB 1360: Charter School Admissions, Suspensions and Expulsions

In their petitions, charter schools must now include a description of the procedures for which a student could be suspended, expelled or removed from a charter school.

Schools will also be able to add additional student preferences for those applying to attend charter schools, after holding a public hearing at their chartering authority.

AB 424: Possession of a Firearm in a School Zone

Superintendents will no longer be able to provide written permission for a person to possess a firearm in a school zone.

School Districts

SB 468 and AB 261: Student Board Members

Student board members will now have preferential voting rights on all educational boards.  They will also receive all open meeting materials, be invited to staff briefings and be provided with separate staff briefings, like all appointed board members.

AB 203: Design and Construction Regulations

School districts will have more flexibility when they are designing instructional facilities which will in turn streamline school design and the process for applying to the state for construction funds.

The law also requires the Department of Education to give technical assistance to small school districts seeking to build or fund school facilities.

SB 751: Reserve Balance

SB 751 raised the limit on school districts’ assigned or unassigned reserve balances—or money districts keep in a reserve for emergencies—to 10 percent.  It also exempts districts with fewer than 2,500 students from these reserve cap restrictions.


AB 37: Content Standards in Media Arts

School districts are required to create visual and performing arts standards in the subject of media arts.

AB 738: Native American Studies

The state Instructional Quality Commission, which recommends curriculum framework to the State Board of Education, is required to develop a model curriculum in Native American Studies for students in grades 9 to 12.

It also would require districts that do not offer a standards-based Native American Studies curriculum to offer a course in the topic based on the model curriculum.

AB 643: Abusive Relationships

Sex and health education classes for students in grades 7 to 12 must now include lessons about relationship abuse and intimate partner violence, and the early warning signs of abusive relationships.

School Meals

SB 250: Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017

The Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 officially ends the process of “meal shaming,” or punishing students in an effort to get parents to pay for their meals and settle their debts with school districts.

Schools that provide meals through the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program must ensure that students are not shamed, treated differently or served different meals if they have unpaid school meal fees.

The law also requires schools to notify parents or guardians of the negative balance on their meal account no later than 10 days after the negative balance appears on their accounts.

SB 138: Universal Meal Service

About 800,000 low-income students who receive Medi-Cal benefits will now be automatically enrolled in the state’s free or reduced-price lunch program.

Also known as the “Feed the Kids Act,” the law also requires high-poverty schools to operate a federally-funded universal meal program to all students.

Teacher Employment

AB 170: Teacher Credentialing

Individuals applying for a multi-subject credential or a preliminary multi-subject credential will no longer be required to have a bachelor degree in a subject other than professional education.

AB 949: Criminal Background Checks

Employees of companies school districts contract with will now be required to complete a criminal background check and fingerprinting before working on school campuses.

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