05.09.2016
New and Improved! More Complaints Fall under Uniform Complaint Procedures

Under Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 4600-4687, local educational agencies such as school districts must adopt procedures for resolving certain types of complaints, including allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, and noncompliance with certain federal and state program requirements. These policies are known as “Uniform Complaint Procedures” (UCP), as their purpose is to establish a uniform system of processing complaints for certain programs that receive state or federal funding.

Recent amendments to the Education Code bring additional complaints within the ambit of the UCP. The Title 5 regulations have not yet changed, but they may be updated to reflect these legislative amendments. Some of the amendments merely add a new complaint right based on existing obligations of school districts, and some are more substantive.

  • Senate Bill 81 added Education Code section 52334.7, which authorizes uniform complaints regarding an alleged violation of federal or state law or regulations governing adult education programs or regional occupational centers and programs.
  • Assembly Bill 302 added section 222 to the Education Code, which requires districts to accommodate lactating students and prohibits academic penalties for using the accommodations. Section 222 authorizes uniform complaints of noncompliance with these requirements.
  • Assembly Bill 379 amended sections of the Education Code relating to the educational rights of foster and homeless students: 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1, and 51225.2. AB 379 authorizes uniform complaints of noncompliance with the provisions of each section.
  • Assembly Bill 1012 added Education Code sections 51228.1, 51228.1, and 51228.3, prohibiting school districts from assigning students in grades 9 through 12 to a course period without educational content for more than one week in a semester, or to a course the student previously completed with a satisfactory grade, unless certain conditions are satisfied. These new sections also authorize uniform complaints of noncompliance.
  • Assembly Bill 1391 amended Education Code sections 51210 and 51223, which require a minimum of 200 instructional minutes in physical education in each 10 schooldays in grades 1 through 8. AB 1391 authorizes uniform complaints to address noncompliance with these requirements.
  • Senate Bill 172 amended Education Code section 60640, and added Education Code sections 60851.5 and 60851.6, suspending administration of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), removing the CAHSEE as a condition of graduating and receiving a diploma, and addressing students who met graduation requirements apart from passing the CAHSEE in prior years. Previously, CAHSEE-related complaints could be filed under school districts’ “Williams” UCP policies. As a result of SB 172, districts need not include this language in Williams UCP policies while the CAHSEE is suspended.

The California Department of Education periodically audits the UCP policies of school districts and other educational agencies that are subject to the UCP regulations. Districts should review their Uniform Complaint Procedures to ensure they are current and they properly advise students, parents/guardians, and personnel of this expanding panoply of rights. UCP policies, and policies related to the substantive legislative amendments – such as those on homeless and foster youth – may require revision to remain compliant with current law.

 

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