On October 5, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 699 into law, a bill designed to enhance protections for immigrant students served by school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2018, and contains a number of implications for public schools. In particular, the bill obligated the California Attorney General to publish model policies by April 1, 2018, and for schools to adopt those model policies, or their equivalent, by July 1, 2018.
On March 30, 2018, Attorney General Becerra published guidance and model policies pursuant to AB 699 to help schools and local educational agencies comply with the new law. To view the Attorney General’s guidance and model policies, along with a quick-reference guide and checklist, visit: https://www.oag.ca.gov/bcj. These model policies, or their equivalent, must be adopted by schools by July 1, 2018. Our office expects the California School Boards Association (“CSBA”) to develop and revise their model policies to incorporate these new requirements. We advise our clients who subscribe to CSBA’s model policies to check for “Policy Updates” over the next month for sample policies in the CSBA format. In the interim, included with this Legal Update is a listing of all of the model policy language from the Attorney General.
AB 699’s major provisions are described in further detail below.
The bill added language to the Education Code expressly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of immigration status. Immigration status cannot be used as a basis to deny students access or opportunity within public schools. The bill also clarifies that the Safe Place to Learn Act, a requirement for the CDE to monitor LEAs’ compliance with adoption of a policy that prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on specified characteristics, expressly includes immigration status among those characteristics covered by the law.
Collection of private information:
School officials and employees of a school district or LEA are prohibited from collecting or requesting information or documents regarding the citizenship or immigration status of pupils or their family members, including Social Security numbers, unless required by law or required to administer a state or federally supported educational program.
Reporting to governing board:
Superintendents of school districts and of county offices of education as well as charter school principals are required to timely report to their respective governing board or body of their LEA any requests for information or to access a school site by an officer or employee of a law enforcement agency for the purpose of enforcing the immigration laws. The superintendent or principal must timely report in a manner that ensures the confidentiality and privacy of any potentially identifying information.
Detained and deported parents:
When a student’s parents are not available to care for the pupil, for example if they have been detained on immigration charges or deported, a school should not contact Child Protective Services (CPS) until it has exhausted all other avenues to ensure the student’s care. Schools are required to pursue all contacts on the child’s emergency card or follow any other instructions provided by a parent or guardian prior to contacting CPS. Schools are encouraged to work with parents/guardians to update emergency contact information for this purpose.
Provide “know your rights” information:
Schools must provide “know your rights” information to parents/guardians related to education rights for immigrant students and students with immigrant family members. Schools must advise parents of their children’s rights to a free public education regardless of immigration status or religious beliefs. This information and notification may be provided in a school or school district’s annual notice to parents, or by any other cost-effective means determined by the LEA. The California Attorney General’s website includes “know your rights” resources at https://oag.ca.gov/immigrant/rights. One of the documents provided in the recent Attorney General publication is a “know your rights” handout for parents and guardians. We will provide our clients with a version of this handout in both English and Spanish as an attachment to our forthcoming 2018-2019 Annual Notice to Parents Legal Update.
Bullying and harassment education:
Schools must educate students about the negative impacts of bullying based on a student’s actual or perceived immigration status or their religious beliefs or customs. The California Department of Education is now required to ensure school districts adopt policies prohibiting discrimination and establish procedures for reporting and addressing such incidents. Schools may need to modify anti-bullying curricula and provide additional professional development to staff.
“Safe Haven” policies:
The California Attorney General was required to create model policies regarding how to handle requests for access to school grounds and requests to obtain information about students and/or their family members for purposes related to immigration enforcement. In addition, the Attorney General was required to create model policies regarding notification procedures when a person gains access to school grounds for purposes related to immigration enforcement. You can find the Attorney General’s model “safe haven” policies in the attachment. Schools are required to implement equivalent policies by July 1, 2018.
Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.
Legal Update written by: Carl D. Corbin, General Counsel and Sarah Hirschfeld-Sussman, Schools Legal Counsel.
The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.
© 2018 School and College Legal Services of California
All rights reserved. However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.
 The bill is available online at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB699.