Written by Isabella Tsai and Elizabeth Bock
California governor Jerry Brown approved two student advocacy bills this past September, giving high school representatives a stronger voice when it comes to school board decisions in the future. Assembly Bill 261 (AB-261) and Senate Bill 468 (SB-468), will grant student board members all over the state––including SPUSD member and SPHS Commissioner of Internal Affairs Jae Jin Lee––more information and opportunities to actively participate in school board meetings.
AB-261, authored by California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, permits student members of the school board to have a preferential vote. This means that the district’s student representative can cast a vote before the official voting, allowing any council members to consider the student body’s opinion of the proposed legislation before voting.
SB-468 allows the student board member to have access to all open session materials and staff briefings at the same time as other board members. The goal of this bill, authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva, is for student representatives to have more knowledge of the issues on the table so they can participate in school board discussions.
South Pas has afforded their student board member preferential voting rights prior to the passing of AB 261; however, many other nearby districts have not extended this right to their student representatives.
“By having a student board member, it shows that the adults who make the decisions regarding our education actually do care about what student opinions are,” Lee said, “and now since all schools are required to do so [with preferential voting rights for the student member], I think it’s a huge step for schools who haven’t had this opportunity.”
Assembly Bill 261 and Senate Bill 468, both sponsored by the California Association of Student Councils (CASC), will go into effect on January 1, 2018.