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AB-1974 Pupils: collection of debt.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 05/02/2018 09:00 PM
AB1974:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 02, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 03, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 12, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1974


Introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher
(Principal coauthor: Senator Hertzberg)

January 31, 2018


An act to add Section 49014 to the Education Code, relating to pupils.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1974, as amended, Gonzalez Fletcher. Pupils: collection of debt.
Existing law provides that a pupil enrolled in a public school is prohibited from being required to pay a pupil fee, as defined, for participation in an educational activity, as defined.
The Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 prohibits certain local educational agencies, as defined, that provide school meals through the federal National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program from taking any action directed at a pupil to collect unpaid school meal fees. The act authorizes a local educational agency to attempt to collect unpaid school meal fees from a parent or guardian, but prohibits the local educational agency from using a debt collector, as defined.
This bill would enact the Public School Fair Debt Collection Act. The act would provide that a pupil or former pupil, unless emancipated at the time the debt is incurred, can never owe or be billed for a debt owed to a public school or school district, county office of education, charter school, or state special school. The act would prohibit those educational entities from taking negative actions against a pupil or former pupil because of a debt owed to the educational entity, including, among other things, denying or withholding grades or transcripts, or denying or withholding a diploma. The act would require those educational entities to provide a receipt to a parent or guardian for each payment made to the educational entity for any amount owed by the parent or guardian on behalf of the pupil or former pupil. The act would prohibit those educational entities from using a debt collector, as defined, to pursue from reporting debt owed by a parent or guardian to a credit reporting agency if the debt collector is contracted with one of those educational entities for the purpose of pursuing repayment of any debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil, or and the bill would prohibit those educational entities from selling or assigning debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil. The bill would provide that any waiver by a parent, guardian, pupil, or former pupil of the these provisions is contrary to public policy and is unenforceable and void. The bill would provide that these provisions do not apply to debt owed as a result of vandalism or to cover the replacement cost of public school or school district books, supplies, or property loaned to a pupil that the pupil fails to return or that are willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise injured, except if the pupil is a homeless child or youth, as defined, and would authorize a public school or school district to request alternative, nonmonetary forms of compensation to settle such debt. By imposing additional duties on school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Public School Fair Debt Collection Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 49014 is added to the Education Code, to read:

49014.
 (a) A pupil or former pupil, unless emancipated at the time the debt is incurred, shall not owe or be billed for a debt owed to a public school or school district.
(b) A public school or school district shall not, because of a debt owed to the public school or school district, take negative action against a pupil or former pupil, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Denying or withholding grades or transcripts.
(2) Denying or withholding a diploma.
(3) Limiting or barring participation in an extracurricular activity, club, or sport.
(4) Limiting or excluding from participation in an educational activity or field trip.
(c) A public school or school district shall provide a receipt to the parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil for each payment made to the public school or school district for any amount owed by the parent or guardian on behalf of the pupil or former pupil.
(d) A public school or school district shall not use a Except as provided in subdivision (g), a debt collector, as defined in Section 803 of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1692a), to pursue shall not report a debt owed by a parent or guardian to a credit reporting agency if the debt collector is contracted with a public school or school district for the purpose of pursuing the repayment of a debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil.
(e) A public school or school district shall not sell or assign debt owed by a parent or guardian of a pupil or former pupil.
(f) Any waiver by a parent, guardian, pupil, or former pupil of the provisions of this section is contrary to public policy and shall be unenforceable and void.
(g) (1) This section shall not apply to debt owed as a result of vandalism or to cover the replacement cost of public school or school district books, supplies, or property loaned to a pupil that the pupil fails to return or that are willfully cut, defaced, or otherwise injured. A public school or school district may request alternative, nonmonetary forms of compensation to settle debt described in this subdivision. paragraph.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply if the pupil is a homeless child or youth.
(h) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Homeless child or youth” has the same meaning as “homeless children and youths” in Section 11434a(2) of Title 42 of the United States Code.

(1)

(2) “Public school” includes the state special schools, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 48927, charter schools, schools operated by a county office of education, and schools within a school district.

(2)

(3) “School district” means a school district or county office of education.

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.