State finds SDUSD at fault in fundraising complaint

Posted at 9:16 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-07 00:16:49-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - Over the summer San Diego Unified father Carl Yee filed a complaint with the district. It was in regards to a fundraiser at Roosevelt Middle School that he believed unfairly excluded students.

On the fundraiser's brochure, it stated a minimum $30 donation was required for students to participate. Yee told school officials that went against district policy because students should not be denied participation in a school fundraiser if they could not come up with money.

At the time, the district told 10News that because a foundation organized the event, not all district requirements applied. But Yee says the event was promoted by the school, held on campus and during class hours.

"There were several rounds of back and forth and finally the district said there really wasn't anything wrong," Yee said, after the district's investigation.

They concluded students could participate if they didn't pay the fee, and says three students did. District officials told Yee students were not denied privilege related to an educational activity.

Yee appealed that decision to the California Department of Education, which concluded there was merit in his appeal.

They say the district violated EC 49011 (b)(4) in California's Education Code because privileges related to educational activities were given in exchange for money. In this case, students who raised more money received more color packets for the fundraiser in question.

State officials say it's also not clear all students who wanted to participate but couldn't fundraise were allowed to.

The state is requiring the district to reimburse students who paid the $30 fee.

"I think an apology would be the best course of action for kids who didn't get to participate because of an illegal fee. It doesn't cost the district anything and sends the message to kids that this is what adults do when they make a mistake," said Yee.

The district tells 10News their chief legal counsel has not received the state's decision and can not yet comment on the state's findings.

However, they say this appears to be an isolated incident.

The district sent this statement from the school's principal:

“The school will review all policies to ensure families know that all students can participate in any fundraising activities. The intended benefit of any fundraising effort by our foundation is to support the academic and enrichment activities of our IB program for each and every student."