A recent ruling by the Iowa Department of Education says school districts cannot charge fees to students for some activities and supplies. Department lawyer Carol Gretta says the ruling was prompted by the Ames School District, which requested clarification on some 20 fees.
Gretta says she’s had the most questions on fees for buses used for sports and other activities. "The ruling says that districts may not charge for extracurricular transportation, nor may they charge for fees associated with field trips, admission costs or transportation, when those are during the instructional day," Gretta says.
Some districts have been charging students who participate in sports a fee to help pay for the buses to and from the contests — but Gretta says this is the first time that type of fee has been questioned. Gretta says it’s an area where there’s really been a split of opinion among attorneys who practice education law, and the Department has never had an opportunity before to give a definitive ruling on the issue.
The ruling could mean the loss of thousands of dollars in fees for districts. Gretta says booster clubs will likely be asked to make up some of the money. She says the department is merely interpreting the law passed by the legislature, and it’s likely school districts might go together and try to get the law changed to allow them to charge some of the fees.
Urbandale is one school that charged an activity fee, and the activities director says the district had anticipated collecting fees of $75,000 this year for transportation. If you’ve paid the fee four your student in the past, don’t expect a refund.
Gretta says the order does not entitle anyone to a refund, as she says up until the order was issued August 4th, it was the first time the schools had clarity on some of these items. The ruling did list seven areas where districts can charge fees, including charges for textbooks and school supplies.
Gretta says, " I think it’s important to note that Iowa is in a minority of states in which districts are allowed to charge any type of rentals for textbooks or school supplies." The ruling says districts can charge for eye and ear protection for use in certain classes, for summer classes, driver education classes, and transportation for students who do not live beyond set district boundary limits.
See the Education Department ruling in the link below.