Saturday School Is Illegal! It’s True!!!
Saturday School may not be used as detention. Saturday School or Weekend Classes must be academic and not punitive. Attendance shall be at the option of the student or the parent and classes shall be the same as those conducted during the regular school week which offer graduation credit.
E. C. 37223, 1987
The purpose of Saturday School is to provide supplemental educational opportunities, smaller student/teacher ratios, increased instructional time in core subjects and to improve academic achievement.
Saturday School Act, 1988
Laws which can help us understand the Saturday school code are:
- E. C. 51016: “Class” means an organized group of pupils within a school who are pursuing a particular course, subject or activity.
2. E. C. 51011: “Educational program” means the entire school-sponsored offering for pupils of a district, including in-class and out-of-class activities.
3. E. C. 51013: “Curriculum” means the courses of study, courses, subjects, classes and organized group activities provided by a school.
4. E. C. 51014: “Course of study” means the planned content of a series of classes, courses, subjects, studies, or related activities.
5. E. C. 51015: “Course” means an instructional unit of an area or field of organized knowledge, usually provided on a semester, year or prescribed length-of-time basis.
The legal definition of “class” is the most operative concept in this explanation.
Both E. C. 37223 and the Saturday School Act of 1988 are academic alternatives for instruction. In E. C. 37223, the central words are classes and programs. Class or classes are used nine times and program or programs are used five times.
In paragraph (a), all the examples of classes or programs are academic.
In paragraph (b), attendance credit is limited to five days per week which demonstrates the significance of the fiscal nature assigned to the idea of a class which is instructive and educational and not detentional or punitive both of which are never mentioned or even alluded to.
In paragraph (c), attendance at classes on Saturday or Sunday shall be a parental choice for minor students. Traditional Saturday schools are historically a choice between detention or suspension which negates the freedom of choice. Asking parents to choose between something which may be legal, suspension, depending on the student infraction, and something which is illegal, Saturday school as a legitimate form of detention is an inappropriate and dishonest stance for professionals to model. It places us above the law for convenience sake and teaches students that the ends justify the means.
This paragraph also states that school boards may require truants to attend makeup classes on the weekend. Key concepts here are truants and classes. We already understand how classes are legally defined. The board prerogative is sound, but they must remember that according to E. C. 48900 (s) it is the intent of the Legislature that alternatives to suspension and expulsion be imposed against any student who is truant, tardy or otherwise absent from school. Therefore, if Saturday school is truly an alternative to suspension, it must be a board approved class which teaches a curriculum from which truants have been absent.
Paragraph (d) states clearly that any Saturday class which is offered shall be one offered during the regular school week. Again, class is the emphasis and specifically a class which is offered during regular instructional time and classes offered during regular instructional time are taught only by credentialed teachers who teach from a state and board designated curriculum which is now based on specific and demanding state standards.
In paragraph (e) average daily attendance is mentioned in relation to programs. All the examples of daily attendance are programs which are for those mentally gifted or in special education activities. All of this relates to the nature of class as instructional and educational and not detentional.
According to C. C. R. Title 5, Sec. 353, students may not be required to remain after school for disciplinary reasons for more than one hour. Saturday school is usually 2-4 hours and it does not happen after school which violates the law on two accounts.
Detention is legal and an appropriate alternative for some behavioral situations. It is appropriate for detention to be punitive, but insightful educators also incorporate the rehabilitative nature of detention for the welfare of the student, the teacher, the class associated with the offending student and for the specific enhancement of the learning environment. The most effective detention is one developed and supervised by the person with whom the violation is associated. If the student misses my class or is disruptive in my class, then I am the teacher who knows the student best, who will be personally involved with the student for the longest time and the one who has the most at stake in seeking a change in behavior. For the most part, the student belongs in my detention.
When Saturday school simply isolates and detains without specific problem solving counseling, it is of no value. To only house students on the weekend for long periods of time with minimal essays, reading or even homework experiences or just with orders to be quiet is a dismal methodology for positive behavior change. Much more is expected of us.
Boyer P. August, Ed. D., M. S.
Teacher, Administrator, Therapist, Consultant, Student Advocate
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