Legislative Update: Assembly Bill 1909 Implemented To Benefit Foster Children

December 10, 2012 | Bulletin No. 1016552.1

KMTG will be issuing a series of updates on new legislation signed by Governor Brown.  All laws become effective January 1, 2013, unless otherwise stated.

Assembly Bill 1909

The primary focus of Assembly Bill 1909 (“AB 1909”) is to require that a foster child’s attorney and appropriate welfare representative (usually their social worker) be notified in situations where the foster child faces possible suspension or expulsion from school. This notification is in addition to parental or guardian notification. The purpose of this bill is to benefit foster youth by helping ensure that they have an adult advocate on their side during the disciplinary process. As stated by the author of the bill, “A lack of notification to parties responsible for the foster youth’s welfare creates a missed opportunity to address the root causes of that youth’s behavioral issues and may lead to an unnecessary disruption in the foster youth’s education.”

Placement | Suspension & Expulsion | Notifications

AB 1909 requires the following types of notifications to a foster child’s attorney and appropriate welfare representative.

1. The district’s educational liaison for foster children, if so designated by the superintendent, shall notify a foster child’s attorney and the appropriate representative of the county child welfare agency when there is a pending expulsion proceeding if the decision to recommend expulsion is a discretionary act, when there is a pending proceeding to extend a suspension until an expulsion decision is rendered if the decision to recommend expulsion is a discretionary act, and when there is a pending manifestation determination for a child with exceptional needs if the proposed change in placement is due to an act for which the decision to recommend expulsion is discretionary.

2. The bill requires the school district to invite the foster child’s attorney and the appropriate representative of the county child welfare agency to participate in any meeting with the foster child and the child's parent or guardian to determine whether to extend a suspension of the foster child.

3. The school district is required to invite the foster child’s attorney and the appropriate representative of the county child welfare agency to participate in the manifestation determination meeting, if the foster child is an individual with exceptional needs and if the proposed change in placement is due to an act for which the decision to recommend expulsion is discretionary.

4. The governing board of a school district shall provide notice of any expulsion hearing, at least 10 calendars days in advance, to the foster child’s attorney and an appropriate representative of the county child welfare agency when the decision to recommend expulsion is discretionary. Notice of an expulsion hearing may be provided when the decision to recommend expulsion is required.

In addition to the notification requirements, AB 1909 also requires a foster child’s attorney under certain circumstances to provide his/her contact information to the LEA; authorizes each foster child’s summary of health and education information to include the contact information for the educational liaison of the LEA; and authorizes the child’s caregiver to provide the contact information of the child’s attorney to the school district when the child is placed outside the county of jurisdiction.

What This Means To You

School districts should make changes to appropriate sections of your policies, procedures and handbooks regarding expulsion, suspension, foster children and/or manifestation determination meetings to ensure compliance with these new provisions.  Be sure your district’s educational liaison for foster children, student discipline personnel, principals, governing boards and other appropriate personnel are familiar with these new requirements.

Districts should decide how, when and by whom the different types of notices will be given.  AB 1909 provides some guidance on how the notices are to be provided for some of the provisions but not for all, and even the guidance given provides school districts with some flexibility.  School districts want to be sure, however, that the mode of notification is consistent and aligned with the purpose of AB 1909.

AB 1909 amends Education Code Sections 48853.5, 48911, 48915.5 and adds Section 48918.1. It also amends Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 317 and 16010.

Questions

If you have any questions concerning the content of this Legal Alert, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

Arturo E. Ocampo | 916.321.4500