Public AccessInformation relating to public access to written information, open meetings, school facilities, and pupil records and grades.
Public Records Act—Government Code Section 6250 et seq.
Public records include any written information that is prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency (such as a county, city, or school district) and is related to the conduct of public business, regardless of the physical form or characteristics of the public business. Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency. Every person has the right to inspect any public record and obtain a copy for a fee unless, pursuant to specific statutory standards, it must be kept confidential. Agency regulations may be adopted stating the procedures to be followed when making records available.
Open Meetings (Brown Act)—Government Code Section 54950 et seq. and EC sections 35145 and 35145.5
Generally, public agencies are required by law to conduct their business in an open forum. However, the Legislature recognizes the need for agencies to meet, on occasion, in private forum. For example, certain matters concerning personal privacy of public employees or litigation strategy are more appropriately discussed in a closed (rather than open) session.
Agencies are required to provide agendas at least 72 hours prior to each regular meeting; the agenda must contain a brief description of each item to be considered. Local bodies are required to take steps to ensure public participation in the meetings. Minutes shall be taken and are public records. Boards shall adopt regulations governing the procedures to be followed to (1) ensure that members of the public may include items on the agenda for consideration; and (2) permit the public to address the board regarding items on the agenda as they are deliberated. These regulations do not preclude the board from addressing matters that are not on the agenda but that a member of the public wishes to bring before the board, provided that no action is taken on such matters at the same meeting during which the testimony is taken.
Civic Center Act—EC Section 38130 et seq.
Every public school facility is considered a civic center where citizens, school-community councils, and clubs as well as senior, recreation, education, political, artistic, and other organizations may meet. The school district may grant the use of school facilities and grounds upon certain terms and conditions deemed proper by the governing board and subject to specified limitations, requirements, and restrictions set forth within the law.
Pupil Records—EC Section 49060 et seq.
Except for certain directory information, such as students’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and certain other information that is disclosable by the school district, pupil records cannot be disclosed without parental consent (except to certain specified governmental entities and school employees). Parents have absolute right of access to their children’s records and may formally challenge the contents. School districts and private schools are required to transfer pupil records to each other when students change schools. School districts must notify parents of their rights under the pupil records law (EC Section 49063).
Grades—EC sections 49066 and 49070(b)
The grade given to a pupil by the teacher of the course (in the absence of clerical or mechanical error, bad faith, incompetency, or fraud) shall be final. Neither the local governing board nor superintendent shall order a grade changed without first giving the teacher who has assigned the grade the opportunity to state orally or in writing the reasons for which the grade in question was given.
Promotion and Retention—EC sections 48070 and 48070.5
School districts shall adopt policies regarding the promotion and retention of students pursuant to the standards in EC Section 48070.5. The student’s parent shall be given an opportunity to consult with the school principal and the responsible teacher or teachers before a decision to promote or retain is made and to appeal the decision. There will be notification when a student is identified as being at risk of retention.
The text of these laws is available on the California Law Web site .