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Calif. Senate Passes Ban on Pay-to-Play School Sports

The California senate passed legislation on Thursday that would ban schools from charging students required fees to join sports teams or other extracurricular clubs.

In June, the state assembly approved the bill—which argues that pay-to-play sports violate the state constitution's promise to deliver free public schooling to students—by a 50-17 vote.

The senate vote ended up being much closer—23-15. The amended version now heads back to the assembly for a final vote.

"Free schools are and should remain at the heart of our democracy," said Democratic Sen. Alan Lowenthal to the Associated Press.

The bill does not ban schools from charging strictly voluntary fees, which Lowenthal stressed. It solely applies to fees being charged as a prerequisite for participation in sports teams or other school clubs.

If the current form of the bill becomes law, it will apply to both regular public schools and charter schools, and would require schools to post notices about the new policies regarding fees by Jan. 1, 2012.

Curious about the justification behind the bill? Well, in 1984, the state Supreme Court ruled that "educational opportunities must be provided to all students without regard to their families' ability or willingness to pay fees or request special waivers" in the case Hartzell v. Connell.

Despite that ruling, an investigation by the San Diego Union-Tribune uncovered multiple local schools that openly disclosed pay-to-play fees for students on their websites.

Thus, the state government got involved. And now, thanks to the senate vote, California moved yet another step closer to banning K-12 pay-to-play fees this week.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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