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Q21. Does the list of documents referred to in AB 490 include the student's cumulative file?
Education Code § 49069.5 requires districts to "compile the complete educational record of the pupil including a determination of seat time, full or partial credits earned, current classes and grades, immunization and other records, and, if applicable, a copy of the pupil's [special education] plan…" A student's "cumulative file" should be included as part of the "complete educational record."
Q22. Can a school refuse to forward transcripts for a foster child to his new school because there is an outstanding debt owed on books?
Education Code § 49069.5(d) states: "Upon receiving a transfer request from a county placing agency, the local educational agency
shall, within two business days, transfer the pupil out of school and deliver the educational information and records of the pupil to the next educational placement" (emphasis added). There are no exceptions to this requirement in the code; therefore, a district or school cannot refuse to forward transcripts and educational material due to an outstanding debt.
Q23. What is the definition of "deliver" for the requirement that a school "deliver" the pupil's educational records to a new school within 2 business days? Is it sufficient for the old school to put them in the mail within in 2 days?
Education Code § 49069.5 states that the foster youth's old school, "upon receiving a transfer request from a county placing agency … shall within two business days transfer the pupil out of school and
deliver the educational information and records of the pupil to the next educational placement" (emphasis added).
The code does not provide a definition for "deliver." However, with the widespread availability of facsimiles and email, districts should work together to transmit records in the most immediate manner possible. The receiving school needs the student's records to ensure that the youth is placed in an appropriate educational setting, and any delay in receiving records can have a detrimental impact on the youth's education.
Q24. Whatshould a child welfare worker or school do if they have difficulty determining who holds educational rights? Where should they turn?
This information is contained in a court order; and a caseworker should begin by checking the case file and court record. Next, the worker should call his/her attorney or the child's attorney. Ideally, the person who holds educational rights is listed on the child's education passport and case plan. School personnel may also call the child's caseworker or attorney to get this information. In addition, the child welfare agency and juvenile court should have a protocol for providing this information to those who need it.
If the caseworker determines that education rights have not been addressed by the juvenile court, the worker and/or the child's attorney can ask the court to hold a hearing to determine who should hold educational rights. When the court limits a parent's educational rights, a JV-535 form (Judicial Council form – an Order Limiting Parents' Right to Make Educational Decisions for the Child and Appointing Responsible Adult as Educational Representative), should be filed and provided to the local educational agency. If the court limits educational rights and is unable to identify a Responsible Adult to make educational decisions on behalf of the child, and the child is eligible or suspected of being eligible for special education services, the school district must appoint a Surrogate Parent pursuant to Government Code §7579.5 and provide the contact information to the juvenile court through a JV-536 form.
JV-535 (Order Designating Educational Rights Holder)
JV-563 (Local Educational Agency Response to JV-535)
Q25. Who can sign the emergency information card for a child? Must that person have education rights?
The answer to this question may depend on local school district policies. However, even if there is no legal prohibition on a person filling out the form, it is important to be careful about who has that responsibility. The emergency card usually has vital information, like who to contact in an emergency and who has the right to pick up a child from school (if this is restricted).
Q26. How does the court decide that the parents are unable or unwilling to hold educational rights?
The guidance provided in the law is that the parents' educational rights should only be limited to the extent necessary to protect the child. This determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. However, factors that should be taken into consideration include: the availability of the parents, whether the whereabouts of the parents are known, the child's needs, the extent of the parent's involvement in the child's life, the stage of the proceedings, and other issues that impact the child's interests. If reunification is the case plan goal, and the parents are involved and acting responsibly, the parents should, in most circumstances, be encouraged and supported in retaining these rights.
Q27. Can the school appoint a surrogate parent for special education purposes if the court has not limited the rights of the parents, but the school district can't find them?
Parents/legal guardians retain educational rights unless they have specifically been limited by the court.
WIC §§ 361; 726. If the parents are unavailable or unresponsive to the child's educational needs, the child's attorney and/or the attorney representing the case worker can ask the court to limit the parent/legal guardian's educational rights and appoint a Responsible Adult to make educational decisions. The school district may
only appoint a Surrogate Parent if the court has limited the parent/legal guardian's educational rights and the court is unable to identify a Responsible Adult to appoint in their place.
WIC § 361; WIC § 726; GC § 7579.5.
Q28. Are there existing county/district models on partial credits?
Fresno County is one example of a district that has created a specific policy on partial credits. Under their policy, 15 hours of school work is the equivalent of 1 unit. Seat time alone may not always be the only criteria in assigning credit; student participation, homework and in-class assignment completion can also be considered. When students leave the school mid-semester, teachers fill out a partial-credit verification form immediately to send to the new school. When students transfer into Fresno schools, teachers add credits from their prior school into their records.
Q29. Can a student be required by a teacher to make up work missed as the result of absences caused by a change in placement, attendance at a court hearing or court-ordered activity?
If the youth's absences are caused by a change in his residential placement, his grades should be calculated "as of the date [he] left school" and not lowered as a result of the absence.
EC § 49069.5. However, if the youth has absences caused by court-attendance or court-related activities, the school can require that the youth complete make up work or tests missed.
Q30. If a student is covered by both McKinney-Vento and AB 490, which one governs?
Both McKinney-Vento and AB 490 may simultaneously cover foster youth placed into temporary living situations. Where McKinney-Vento provides greater protection (for example, McKinney-Vento specifically requires that school districts provide transportation to the school of origin), the youth is entitled to this greater level of protection.