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School District Bans Unlawful Student Fees

— The Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees voted today to prohibit sports teams, student organizations or other district groups from charging fees to student participants.

The new regulations will go into effect in the next school year.

Students in California are guaranteed a free education, and the state Supreme Court ruled that applies to extra-curricular activities.

Fees were reportedly collected by athletic coaches at Eastlake, Otay Ranch and Bonita Vista High Schools, which also charged for the marching band and color guard.

Some of the parents of the affected students have been reimbursed, but others reportedly have not -- though many of the latter considered the payment a donation and have not asked to be paid back.

"We recognize and appreciate the importance these groups play in our students' overall educational experience, but we have to be even more vigilant in ensuring access for all students,'' said John McCann, the president of the school board.

District officials said they have been informing coaches, administrators and fine arts instructors about the upcoming policy change since last month.

"We expect curricular and co-curricular activities to look very different next year,'' said Dr. Jesus Gandara, the district superintendent.

"We can no longer offer Cadillac programs on a Hyundai budget.''

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