Note to Local School Districts Regarding State Mandated Services: No Money From the State Means No Duty to Comply

Two cases decided by the court of appeal highlight the dilemma facing many local school districts when the state legislature mandates that they perform additional services. When that happens, the state constitution and related statutes require that the state appropriate money to pay (reimburse) the local school district for the costs associated with the increased service load.

But what if the Legislature does not appropriate enough money to cover the costs of the additional mandated services? And what if the Legislature does make the appropriation, but the Governor vetoes it?

In either case, the local district can suspend the services. This is the interplay of Article VIIIB, section 6 (a) of the California Constitution (requiring reimbursement of state mandated services); Article IV, section 10 (e) the Governor’s right to exercise a line-time veto; and Government Code section 17581, which provides that if the Legislature identified a particular mandate in the Budge Act as one for which reimbursement Is not pro vied, then the affected local agency is not require to comply with the mandate.

Although school districts can sue for a declaration that the Legislature’s failure to appropriate violates the law, the court cannot order the Legislature to pass an appropriation; the “remedy” is for the local district to suspend the services. The two cases on point are California School Boards Association v. State of California (failure to appropriate) and California School Boards Association v. Brown (Governor’s Veto) Complete copies are attached.

Our firm regularly deals with education law issues. We provide legal advice to school administrators, teachers, parents, students and to school districts and private educational intuitions. Feel free to call us if you have an issue in this area.

Education Law Topics: