Fees Fees Fees

A growing number of Montgomery County parents are being rubbed the wrong way by the collection of fees for classes. Here’s an example of some of the fees at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School;  English 9a $21, Honors Spanish 3a $15, Concert Dress Male $115. In many schools the fees are collected on-line by outside vendors. Some parents argue that the fees are against the law. They say Maryland State law and the State constitution provide for a free public education.   I sense that this is an issue that won’t be going away anytime soon..

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2 Responses

  1. James,

    You were one of the first reporters out of the gate on this story! Excellent reporting. Unfortunately, your statement that this issue “won’t be going away anytime soon” is true. Parents are still being charged course fees and students are still being penalized. Students are having their report cards withheld (violation of state law) and are being denied attendance at homecoming events (right now) if they haven’t paid their course fees. Their names are still being posted in lists on the school walls, announcing for all the world that they owe fees to the school!

    We know from the Maryland Attorney General’s office that if an item is curriculum related a school system cannot charge a fee. That isn’t the opinion of parents, that is what has been stated by the Maryland Attorney General’s office. It’s the law.

    MCPS has put off any questions about this continuing violation of the law by claiming to have a “committee”, yet there is no information about the committee: no names of participants, no charge, no meeting dates, no agendas, no minutes, no parent participation. Meanwhile, the illegal course fees are still being charged.

    If Montgomery County were a third world country Lisa Ling would be doing a special on children being denied their right to a free public education and giving her report on Oprah. But this is Montgomery County and children are denied their constitutional rights every day – they are humiliated and shamed into paying for something that is their right – where are the adults in positions of authority (Board of Education, State Board of Education, State Superintendent) that should step in to defend their rights?

    I do hope you will do a follow up story on this issue, as you correctly predicted, it has not gone away.

    Thank you.

    See http://www.parentscoalitionmc.com/GuidetoFees.php for the full text of the August 18, 2008, letter from the Maryland Attorney General’s office.

  2. On Monday, October 27th the Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee will be updated on the Curriculum Fees charged Montgomery County public school families. The Education committee’s staff have prepared a “packet” for the hearing. However the packet does not address the legality of charging Maryland public school families fees when their child attends a class. The packet does not mention the Maryland state constitution, does not mention the opinions and advice from the Maryland Attorney General and does not mention the State Board of Education opinions.

    How can the County Council’s Education Committee be updated on the issue of Curricular Fees and completely ignore that they are illegal in Maryland? Why is the County Council Education Committee spending time discussing an illegal policy? Who is served by a briefing packet that ignores Maryland law? One would hope that Council staff would be objective and present all sides of an issue, but apparently not.

    The briefing packet can be read at the following link:
    http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/pdf/agenda/cm/2008/081027/20081027_ED03.pdf

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