Wendz et al. v. California Department of Education (Education Equity)
In late March 2020, LCCRSF and California Rural Legal Assistance filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the California Department of Education (CDE) challenging the issuance of new regulations that undermined the parental involvement provisions of California’s Migrant Education Statute (Educ. Code §§ 54440 et seq.). In short, the new regulations focused solely on the Act’s Regional Parent Advisory Councils (RPACS), a requirement of the Act since 1981 that have never been subject to regulatory provisions. Pursuant to statute, for almost 40 years, migrant parents have had the “sole authority” to determine the membership of the RPACs, but the new regulations attempted to undermine the statutory authority of migrant parents by imposing additional requirements, which included the following:
- Imposing unauthorized term limits on parents and community members;
- Narrowly defining who could serve as a community member;
- Imposing residency requirements on members that were inconsistent with their status as migrant workers;
- Disqualifying former migrant parents from serving as community members;
- Denying migrant parents the right to remove members;
- Mandating the number and ratio of parent and community members.
California has the largest migrant student population in the US. Approximately, 97% of all migrant students come from homes where English is not the primary language. Because of language barriers and the burden of poverty, migrant parents are often excluded from mainstream parent advisory councils at the site and district level, so it’s imperative that the unique role of the RPACs be preserved.
The regulations went into effect on April 1, 2020. However, the CDE committed to put on hold all the regulations being challenged in our lawsuit, to make sure they were not in effect for the 2020 nominations and elections process.