After allegations last November that up to a third of charter schools violated the state’s free public education guarantee by requiring parents to volunteer, the state said Thursday that schools can’t have such policies.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a news release that “no school can require parents to volunteer in order for a student to enroll in school or participate in an educational activity.”
Last year, the civil rights group Public Advocates investigated the written policies of 555 of the state's 1,100 charter schools. The group said it found 168 charter schools require parents to volunteer, and some even made parents pay about $25 for each hour they can’t volunteer.
The Public Advocates year-long investigation named several of the big charter chains with such policies, including KIPP and Green Dot. In November, KPCC reported that:
Green Dot's policy states: "Parents of Ánimo students are responsible to contribute 35 hours of service to the school each year." However, a Green Dot spokesman said his schools encourage — but don’t require — parent volunteering.
KIPP's LA Prep requires a parent pledge that states: "We will commit to volunteering for 20 or more hours at KIPP LA Prep." Angella Martinez, KIPP LA chief academic officer, said in a statement that while the schools encourage volunteering, there are "no consequences of any kind for children or parents if parents cannot volunteer."
"Going forward, we will update our written materials to reemphasize that parent volunteerism is encouraged but not required," said Martinez.