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State Board of Education Waivers - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

Description of State Board of Education Waivers

A waiver is a grant of authority by the State Board of Education (SBE) to a governing board of a district, county office of education (COE), or special education local plan area (SELPA) to provide an alternative to a legal mandate or prohibition.

General Waiver (Authority granted to the SBE by California Education Code [EC] sections 33050–33053)

The SBE may waive all EC and California Code of Regulations (Title 5) provisions except those listed in EC Section 33050(a)(1-20). Exceptions include many of the attendance accounting revenue limit sections, class-size reduction programs (kindergarten through grade three), and all Standardized Testing and Reporting testing provisions. Any new law or regulation may be waived under this provision unless the bill adds that particular statute to the list of exceptions or contains specific language that the new statute “may not be waived by the SBE.” The local process for general waivers requires proper notice of a local public hearing, participation of the local bargaining unit, and participation by any schoolsite council or other advisory body appropriate to the topic.

Any and all general waivers must be approved, except when the SBE finds one or more of the seven reasons to deny them:

  • The students’ educational needs are not adequately addressed.
  • The waiver affects a program that requires the existence of a schoolsite council, and the schoolsite council did not approve the request.
  • The appropriate councils or advisory committees, including bilingual advisory committees, did not have adequate opportunity to review the request, and the request did not include a written summary of any of these groups’ objections to the request.
  • Pupil or school personnel protections are jeopardized.
  • Guarantees of parental involvement are jeopardized.
  • The request would substantially increase state costs.
  • The exclusive representative of employees, if any, was not a participant in the waiver’s development.

If a general waiver is approved for two consecutive years for the same waiver (or for an initial period of two years), the district or COE is granted a “permanent” waiver, and it does not need to reapply annually “if information contained on the request remains current” (EC Section 33052).

Specific Waivers (Authority found in many other EC sections)

This type of waiver is usually limited to a specific type of program. For example, most waivers for students with disabilities, which must show a benefit to a child based on his or her individualized education program, can be granted under the authority of EC Section 56101. Some waivers also have specific limitations as to the length of time that they can be granted.

Federal Waivers (Authority found in many other EC sections)

Since 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Title I, has allowed the SBE to grant waivers of portions of that federal statute. The SBE has been designated as the state educational agency for purposes of these waivers. These waiver authorities are found throughout the entire statute, similar to the specific waivers of California statute.

Instructional Materials Fund Petitions (Authority found in EC sections 60200[g] and 60421[d]

Petitions for expenditure of restricted instructional materials funds on nonadopted instructional materials are very similar to waivers; however, there is a separate process set in statute for such requests.

For further information regarding SBE waivers, contact the CDE Waiver Office at 916-319-0824. Additional information is available on the CDE Waivers Web page.

Questions: Waiver Office | | 916-319-0824 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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