California Education Laws to Know

As an administrator in a California public school, you will need to be well-versed in all federal, state and local education laws that pertain to your school district. There are many federal mandates, laws and acts for states to abide by, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and all of its subsequent reauthorizations, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and its revised versions, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and currently the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In addition, for schools to receive funds, many federal funding programs require students to meet or exceed consistent assessment achievement standards like those set forth in the Common Core State Standards Initiatives.

But many education laws in California are simply not part of federal regulations. In fact, aspects of the ESSA’s assessment requirements, teacher evaluations, and the organization of funding sources have changed in part due to California’s successful assessment standards and opposition to the test-and-punish model and what might be considered federal overreach inherent in the NCLB. Candidates for a Master of Arts in Education, Educational Administration will gain an in-depth understanding of historical and current education law in California and how it affects school policies and administrative duties.


Although federal law and funding sources mandate anti-discrimination policies in schools, California takes it quite a bit further. California’s state laws and model policies prohibit bullying, intimidation, harassment, and outright discrimination due to any of the following:

  • Disability.
  • Gender.
  • Gender identity.
  • Gender expression.
  • Nationality.
  • Race or ethnicity.
  • Religion.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Association with a person or group with one of more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

Sexual Assault, Abuse and Corporal Punishment

By federal law, states have the final say on corporal punishment in schools. Like most states, California chooses not to allow corporal punishment of any kind in its schools. Moreover, California has a number of progressive education laws concerning sexual assault and abuse. One ruling prevents schools from claiming child consent to sexual acts with those in positions of authority. In effect, this law keeps children safe from being blamed in an abuse situation. Another California education law requires that health education in high schools include sections on sexual assault prevention and teaching students to use “affirmative consent” with each other prior to engaging in any sexual activity.

Non-US Citizens, Homeless and Foster Students

The rights of children from any background or home situation are also emphatically protected by education laws in California. Some form of approved education, whether public or private, is compulsory for children six to 18 years of age who are U.S. citizens. Non-citizens have no such requirements and often do not have access to public education. However, California law stipulates that all children aged six to 18 be allowed to attend public schools, whether or not they are citizens. Specific laws that protect homeless students and foster students ensure they receive an equal education and allow them to continue to attend the same school if they wish, even when switching between homes or shelters.

These are just a few of the education laws unique to California. In earning a master’s degree in educational administration, candidates will have the opportunity to prepare for the responsibilities of being a school administrator by thoroughly learning the intricacies of these and other laws that pertain to education in California.

Learn more about California State University — San Marcos’s Master of Arts in Education, Educational Administration Online.


Los Angeles Times: These New Laws Will Try to Help California’s Vulnerable Students

Education Week: New Education Law Moves U.S. Closer to California’s Path

Westlaw: California Code of Regulations

FindLaw: California Education Laws

California Department of Education: Laws & Regulations

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