Editorial: Las Lomitas misses point on kindergarten
Original post made on Oct 30, 2013
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 12:00 AM
on Oct 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm
The California Department of Education website text that all districts must offer transitional kindergarten has passed the department's legal review.
Other sources include a department spokesperson saying, "To us, it's clear that
public schools and charter schools must offer Transitional Kindergarten. This is the law; it's what's best for kids." EdSource, "Charters and state at odds over Transitional Kindergarten" (Sept. 7, 2012), available at www.edsource.org.
Charter school lobbying groups raised the funding issue that Las Lomitas used in spring 2012. That argument was rejected by the California Department of Education. From an independent legal analysis done during the Charter school debate (you can replace "charter schools" with "basic aid districts":
"Those who argue that charter schools are not required to provide transitional
kindergarten point only to the statutory language which states that "[a]s a condition of receipt of apportionment for pupils in a transitional kindergarten program" a child who will have her fifth birthday between November 2 and December 2 "shall be admitted" to a transitional kindergarten.(Ed. Code, § 48000(c).) They argue this language means charter schools that are willing to forego funding for such students do not have to admit them to transitional kindergarten. (Id., § 48000(c).)
That language, however, is the same as the language that appears elsewhere in the
Education Code to authorize financial penalties as a means of ensuring compliance. Thus, for example, the same language appears in the provision that requires charter schools "as a condition of apportionment" to provide the specified minimum number of minutes of instruction and certify that pupils have participated in the state testing system. (Id., § 47612.5(a).) The language making the requirement "a condition of apportionment" merely means that charter schools can be subject to financial penalties if, for example, they fail to offer the required minutes of
instruction. (Id., § 47612.5(c).)5 However, compliance remains mandatory; for example, it cannot be waived by the State Board of Education even if the charter school agrees to give up its state funding in return. (Id., § 47612.5(e)(4).)
Charter schools are public schools. Public schools in this state are required to
offer kindergarten to age-eligible students, including those who, because of their birth date, are deemed by the Legislature to require a two-year kindergarten program. All public schools, including charter schools, must offer their students a substantially equal education. At a minimum, this means charter schools that offer kindergarten cannot refuse to enroll students who fall within the age requirements and cannot offer the youngest of those students only a one-year traditional kindergarten program when all other public schools are offering a two-year program
with a specialized transitional curriculum for the first year. Failure to do so not only subjects the charter school to financial penalties from the state, but also puts it in violation of the constitutional free public school and equal protection guarantees.
4 That cut-off moves to October in 2013-14, and September in 2014-15. (Ed. Code, § 48000(c).)
5 This reading is further confirmed by Education Code section 46201.2, enacted in response to the recent budget crises, which allows districts and charter schools to "reduce the equivalent of up to five days of instruction or the equivalent number of instructional minutes without incurring the penalties set forth in Sections 41420, 46200, 46200.5, 46201, 46202, and 47612.5." (Ed. Code, § 46201.2(a))."
on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm
What is the point of CA Education comments? We don't have a charter school, are you meaning to inform us that there is a financial penalty for not including the Transitional Kindergarten?
on Oct 30, 2013 at 9:50 pm
To local parent:
My comment addresses whether transitional kindergarten is mandatory or not.
Las Lomitas School District is making the same argument that the charter school lobbyists made that has been rejected--that if you don't take funding you aren't required to offer transitional kindergarten. This argument was rejected by the California Department of Education legal department.
Both basic aid districts and charter schools must provide transitional kindergarten under the law, despite neither receiving state funds to do so.
The analysis above for the charter school situation applies to the situation of a basic aid district such as Las Lomitas.