Is Dana Middle School Really Free?


Emerson Marquez, Opinion Editor

At Dana Middle School, wearing P.E clothing is mandatory. If you don’t wear them, you will be graded on it and your overall GPA will go down and P.E. clothes cost money, approximately $20 for both the shirt and shorts. But what most students don’t understand is that California law states that paying for P.E. clothes is something we don’t have to do.

To put it bluntly, what the P.E. department and the school are doing is illegal. LAUSD states that, “If gym clothes with the school’s logo are required, the school must provide unless the pupil voluntarily purchases the gym clothes.” Look at the word voluntarily. I’ve asked too many Dana students to count if they were told they could get their P.E. clothes for free. A resounding NO is what I got back.

Other California government agencies state that charging for any educational activity that affects your grade is illegal. There are some exceptions such as lost/damaged property, food, AP exams, etc.. The California Department of Education states, “A pupil enrolled in a public school shall not be required to pay a pupil fee for participation in an educational activity.” A pupil is a student in school. California state law says that “supplies, materials, and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.”

 Also according to the California Education code 49066, “No grade of a pupil participating in a physical education class, however, may be adversely affected due to the fact that the pupil does not wear standardized physical education apparel where the failure to wear such apparel arises from circumstances beyond the control of the pupil.”

When asking some Dana students about the issue many of them were angry and confused but what 8th grader Nadine Macias stated sums up many people’s feelings, “Do I have to use nice words, cause it’s BS.”

Also, 7th grader Jillian Litton spoke to me on the subject, saying, “I feel like if its mandatory and they’re going give you a grade on it,  some kids might not be able to pay for them. So I feel like you shouldn’t have to pay for them but I don’t know how they would get them {P.E. clothes} to everyone.”

Her statement brings up a good question, if we don’t pay for them how is the school going to pay for them? People can still pay for the clothes voluntarily if they want to help the school out but it is no one’s obligation to buy P.E. clothes.

Some students also felt that the school should refund the kids that have already paid, and didn’t know that they didn’t have to pay. The California Department of Education states,“If a public school finds merit in a complaint, or the department finds merit in an appeal, the public school shall provide a remedy to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians that, where applicable, includes reasonable efforts by the public school to ensure full reimbursement to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians, subject to procedures established through regulations adopted by the state board.”

I’ve seen first-hand kids being banned from doing activity in P.E. because they did not wear their P.E. clothing for an extended amount of time. But what I don’t understand is there are so many factors that can prevent a student from wearing their P.E. clothes. This includes: a broken washing machine, a parent does not have the money to buy the clothes, and being a human being and forgetting your P.E. clothes. Yes, I do know that loaners are an option if you forget your P.E. clothes, but each piece of clothing cost a quarter and not everyone carries change around. It seems like at every turn the school is asking for money to participate in a mandatory class.

Article 9 education of The California Constitution states, “The Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district.” In the constitution of the state we are living in it specifically uses the term ‘free school’ when describing how the Legislature (the legislative body of a country or state) will ensure that public schools or free schools ‘shall be kept up and supported in each district.’ So the question is, do we get to pick and choose what laws we follow. And what kind of model is this portraying to our student population, where the school is not following the law.