Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Bill Would Prevent Schools From Using Debt Collectors to Go After Overdue Bus and Library Fees

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

SACRAMENTO  – (Wednesday, January 31, 2018) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today introduced a bill that would prevent public schools from siccing debt collectors on parents who fall behind on paying their kids’ bus, library or other school-related fees.

“In the vast majority of cases, parents fall behind on their kids’ school-bus fees because they’re struggling financially,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher says. “It only makes matters worse when a school sends a past-due bill to a debt collector. It impacts the parents’ credit rating, which creates all sorts of other hardships. It’s totally counterproductive.”

Assembly Bill 1974, the Primary Education Fair Debt Collection Act, would put a stop to the San Diego Unified School District’s current practice of using debt collectors for overdue bus fees. In 2014-2015, the San Diego Unified School District referred 380 parents to debt-collection agencies for past-due bus fees ranging from $10 to $500, according to a recent Voice of San Diego story. The cost of sending one of these bills to a debt collector is usually more than a school recoups by taking such action.

The bill would prohibit schools from using debt collectors to pursue payment of past-due fees of any kind owed by the parent or guardian of a student or former student. AB 1974 would also prohibit schools from taking other negative actions against students whose parents have fallen behind on various school-fee payments. A school, for instance, would be forbidden from withholding transcripts or diplomas from these students, or barring these students from participating in sports or other extracurricular activities.

Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles County) is the principal co-author of the bill. For more information on this issue or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact Alex Roth at 619-228-3253.

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/