Gov. Brown Signs Gonzalez Fletcher Bill Preventing Schools From Penalizing Students For Overdue Bus Fares
AB 1974 Will Halt Unfair Practice of Punishing Students and Parents for Past-Due School Bills
SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, September 20, 2018) – California public schools won't be withholding diplomas over past-due bus fare or overdue library books after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today to prevent students or their parents from being penalized for their inability to pay.
The Assemblywoman's Primary Education Fair Debt Collection Act, also known as Assembly Bill 1974, will bar a school district from penalizing a student for any debts – such as school bus fees, overdue library fees or uniform costs – owed to by their parents or allowing the district or a debt collector from reporting that school-related debt to a credit bureau to penalize the parents’ credit rating.
“Going after parents who are struggling financially or don’t know they even owe money to a school is unproductive and harmful,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Penalizing kids for their families’ inability to pay a bill is downright cruel.”
Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher authored AB 1974 in the wake of news reports by Voice of San Diego that the San Diego Unified School District referred 380 parents to debt-collection agencies for past-due bus fees ranging from $10 to $500 since 2014-15 schoolyear. Following the School Board’s decision to no longer refer debts to third-party collection agencies, the Assemblywoman amended AB 1974 to focus on addressing the punitive measures reported against students whose parents fall behind on their bills such as withholding transcripts and diplomas. AB 1974 will also prohibit schools from selling the debt owed by a parent or guardian to debt buyers.
The State Assembly passed AB 1974 by a vote of 43-18 and the State Senate by 33-6. The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
For more information on this issue or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact Mary Latibashvili at (415) 902-3421.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, and Vice Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher visit https://a80.asmdc.org/