Rich Kitchens, Attorney at Law           925-338-1858


Attorney at Law

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Frequent Questions

Rich Kitchens
Attorney at Law

4418 Water Oak Ct.
Concord, CA. 94521

(925) 338-1858

The content on this website is intended for educational and informational purposes only. We focus on California law. Nothing on the website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship. Readers are responsible for obtaining legal advice from their own legal counsel.

I hear a lot about special education. How do I know if my child deserves to be given these kinds of services?

Under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) children ages 3-22 who have one or more of a certain condition (mental retardation, hearing or speech or language or visual impairment, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairment, traumatic brain injury, a specific learning disability, autism, or other health impairment) that adversely affects the child's educational performance are entitled to special education services. These include an initial evaluation to determine eligibility, an individual educational program (IEP) that is specially designed to meet the specific unique needs of your child. Bottom line is that your child is entitled to a free and appropriate education at no cost to you. The educational plan should fit your child rather than the other way around.


I am a private school teacher and a student harassed me and the administration did nothing. What recourse do I have?

If the harassment was sexually-related, as well as severe or pervasive, creating an unwelcome and hostile work environment for you, and school officials (or any employer for that matter) knew about the behavior and did not take steps to deal with it, you may be justified in filing a claim of sexual harassment. The parents of the minor student may also be liable to the school for the student's willful misconduct. (Ed. C. § 48904.) Each case in this area turns on its particular details and facts.


Is there some limit on the amount of homework a teacher may give?

Parents have the right to inspect the materials that teachers use in their teaching according to The Education Empowerment Act of 1998. (See Ed.C. § 49091.10 et. seq.) But the law specifically states that despite the input from parents regarding these materials, these powers do not restrict teachers in the assignment of homework. (Ed.C. § 49091.19.)

Parental involvement in public education is public policy. (Ed.C. § 51100.) Parents and teachers “mutually supportive and respectful partners in the education of their children within the public schools. (Ed.C. § 51101.) 

Each school district “shall develop jointly with parents and guardians, and shall adopt, a policy that outlines how parents or guardians of pupils, school staff, and pupils may share the responsibility for continuing the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development and well-being of pupils at each school site. The policy shall include…[e]nsuring that homework is completed and turned in on a timely basis. (Ed.C. § 51101(b)(3)(B).)

Therefore, it is appropriate to examine the policy in your school district regarding homework.


Can I use a recording device in my classroom?

Education Code § 44034 would allow such things if it is intended to improve your teaching. For example, this would be useful to assist students with learning disabilities under IDEA. Also, it would be useful for you to get feedback on the delivery of instruction.  As you can see from the following statutes, you must get consent prior to any recording!

Ed.C. § 51512. The Legislature finds that the use by any person, including a pupil, of any electronic listening or recording device in any classroom of the elementary and secondary schools without the prior consent of the teacher and the principal of the school given to promote an educational purpose disrupts and impairs the teaching process and discipline in the elementary and secondary schools, and such use is prohibited. Any person, other than a pupil, who willfully violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any pupil violating this section shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. This section shall not be construed as affecting the powers, rights, and liabilities arising from the use of electronic listening or recording devices as provided for by any other provision of law.

Ed.C. § 44034. Any classroom teacher who, in the interest of improving his or her personal teaching techniques, wishes to use an audio recording device in a classroom to record classroom instructional presentations, may employ that device without the necessity of obtaining the approval of the school principal or other school officials.


What is an excused absence? What can be the effect on a student’s grade of an “unexcused absence”?

Ed. C. § 48205 specifies exactly what an “excused” absence may be. An “excused absence” would be due to: illness; quarantine; having medical, dental, optometrical, orchiropractic services rendered; attendance at immediate family funeral services (1 day if in California; 3 days if outside); jury duty; an illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the pupil is the custodial parent; or for justifiable personal reasons, including, but not limited to, an appearance in court, attendance at a funeral service, observance of a holiday or ceremony of his or her religion, attendance at religious retreats (up to 4 hours a semester), or attendance at an employment conference, when the pupil's absence has been requested in writing by the parent or guardian and approved by the principal or a designated representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the governing board.

A pupil absent from school with an “excused absence” shall be allowed to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence that can be reasonably provided and, upon satisfactory completion within a reasonable period of time, shall be given full credit therefor. As the teacher of any class from which a pupil is absent shall determine the tests and assignments shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the tests and assignments that the pupil missed during the absence. (Ed.C. § 48205(b).)

Parents are to be notified, by school districts, that “no pupil may have his or her grade reduced or lose academic credit for any absence or absences excused pursuant to Section 48205 when missed assignments and tests that can reasonably be provided are satisfactorily completed within a reasonable period of time.

School districts may adopt regulations authorizing a teacher to assign a failing grade to any pupil whose absences from the teacher's class that are not excused pursuant to Section 48205 equal or exceed a maximum number which shall be specified by the board. These policies should also include: (1) A reasonable opportunity for the pupil or the pupil's parent or guardian to explain the absences. (2) A method for identification in the pupil's record of the failing grades assigned to the pupil on the basis of excessive unexcused absences. (Ed.C. § 49067(b).)


Must a district advertise any opening, such as a coaching opening?

A “limited employment preference” is created for credentialed teachers in available coaching positions within a district. It is conditional on the teacher applying for the position and meeting the district-set qualifications for the position. (See Ed.C. § 44919 and CTA v. Rialto, 14 C.4th 627 (1997).) That much is settled. We would have to consult your contract to seek the extent to which the district must notify teachers (and others) of available openings.


I am a high school basketball coach and was fired by the principal from my coaching job in August, after summer league and camps were done. Do I have any rights to my job back?

Under state law, coaches require some type of certification. (Ed. C. § 35179.5.) Coaches who supervise athletic activity after school are temporary employees. (Ed. C. § 44919(b).) Temporary employees requiring certification qualifications (i.e., coaches) who are not fired before the end of the school year ….[Ed. C. §44954—dismissal of temporary employees]….


I am a veteran high school government teacher. I heard that, under the law, I must teach about certain documents. Is this true? What about my academic freedom?

Education Code § 51230 now requires that you teach certain documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights), the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, Washington’s Farewell Address, and representative selections from The Federalist Papers). How you teach these documents is up to you…and to your district’s policy. And now, your school must teach about the U.S. Constitution near Constitution Day, which is September 17. (See the Constitutional Law Education Project ( or the Bill of Rights Institute for some ideas.)


I have heard rumors of student fighting and behavior that the dean of our school has investigated, but I have never been told of the extent of these behaviors of my students. Do I have a right to know?

State law (Ed. Code § 49079) requires the district and administrators to notify teachers who have students who have committed (or are reasonably thought to have committed) suspendable or expellable offenses (which are specified in Ed. Code § 48900). In fact, you should be notified of these misbehaviors if they have occurred during the last three years. If you are not notified, the administrator may have committed a misdemeanor under this law.


Student Privacy and Grades?

Since the adoption of the privacy amendment in 1972, California courts have held that a broad range of interests were protected by the right of privacy. Thus the right was found to extend to governmental surveillance of classroom discussions and data gathering activities on students and professors (White v. Davis, 13 Cal. 3d 757); to the unauthorized dissemination of a student's grades to a scholarship and loan agency (Porten v. University of San Francisco, 64 Cal. App. 3d 825); and to the disclosure of confidential bank records (Valley Bank of Nevada v. Superior Court (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 652 [125 Cal. Rptr. 553, 542 P.2d 977]).

See In re William G. 40 Cal.3d 550, 563 221 Cal. Rptr. 118; 709 P.2d 1287 for a good statement about students’ right to privacy in schools.

Ed. C. § 49070. Parent can challenge contents of student records.

However, in accordance with Section 49066, the superintendent shall not order a pupil's grade to be changed unless the teacher who determined the grade is, to the extent practicable, given an opportunity to state orally, in writing, or both, the reasons for which the grade was given and is, to the extent practicable, included in all discussions relating to the changing of the grade.

  • Education Law: Representation and consultation
  • Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts for single individuals and families
  • Public Sector Employment: Training for employees and employers, representation
  • Harassment: Prevention training and legal representation
  • Negotiation: Training, consulting, and legal epresentation
  • Personal Injury

Rich Kitchens    4418 Water Oak Ct.    Concord, CA. 94521    925-338-1858 

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