The Eliezer Williams, et al., vs. State of California, et al. (Williams) case was filed as a class action in 2000 in San Francisco County Superior Court. The plaintiffs included nearly 100 San Francisco County students, who filed suit against the State of California and state education agencies, including the California Department of Education (CDE). The basis of the lawsuit was that the agencies failed to provide public school students with equal access to instructional materials, safe and decent school facilities, and qualified teachers. The case was settled in 2004, resulting in the state allocating millions in additional funding for standards-aligned instructional materials for schools in the first and second ranks (known as deciles) determined through the 2003 Academic Performance Index (API) Base. Up to 2.3 million California public school students may benefit from funding from the Williams case settlement.
The Valenzuela v. O’Connell et al. case was filed in February 2006 challenging the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). The settlement was contingent on the Legislature’s passage and the Governor’s signing of AB 347, authored by Assembly Member Pedro Nava, which the Governor signed on October 12, 2007. The passage of AB 347 expanded the services available to students for up to two consecutive years after completion of grade twelve who have not yet passed the CAHSEE under the Intensive Service and Instruction and the Middle and High School Counseling Programs. The bill also made other changes to Education Code sections 1240, 35186, 37254, 52378, and 52380 to implement the settlement. The text of AB 347 can be found at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.
However, Senate Bill (SB) 172 (Liu) was signed by Governor Brown on October 7, 2015. This law suspends the administration of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) and the requirement that students completing grade twelve successfully pass the high school exit examination as a condition of receiving a diploma of graduation from high school for the 2015–16, 2016–17, and 2017–18 school years. The law also requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to grant a diploma of graduation to any student who completed grade twelve in the 2003-04 school year, or a subsequent school year, and has met all applicable graduation requirements other than passing the high school exit examination. The bill also requires the Superintendent to convene an advisory panel to make recommendations to the Superintendent on the continuation of the high school exit examination and on alternative pathways to satisfy the high school graduation requirements pursuant to California Education Code sections 51224.5 and 51225.3. The law will take effect on January 1, 2016, at which time LEAs shall be permitted to issue diplomas to eligible students.
Additional FAQ’s about the suspension of the CAHSEE can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/cahseesuspendfaq.asp.