Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pay to Graduate in MCPS

  • The Board of Education has never authorized local schools to charge students a fee to graduate.

  • The Maryland State Legislature has never authorized public schools to charge students a fee to graduate. 

  • The money collected through "senior dues/fees" doesn't go in to the MCPS Operating Budget.  

  • The "senior fees/dues" charged at MCPS schools varies from zero to over $100.  

What exactly are these dues/fees being used for? 

Please note the "late fee." That adds a sense of urgency to this unjustified charge. 

Senior Fees
Dear Senior Parents,
Thursday, December 23, 2010 is the last day to pay the senior fee at the low price of $45.00.  The price goes up after the winter break to $50.00.
Please submit your money or checks to XXXXX in the Media Center. 
Don't forget to write your students' name and ID number on the check. 
All checks should be made out to XXHS.
Have a great, happy and healthy holiday.
Thank you,
Senior Class Sponsor

Check out the cap & gown price at this MCPS school. Makes you wonder what the "low $45" price is at the school above.

Date: December 3, 2010
Re:  Senior Cap and Gown fee
Dear Parents…The time is upon us to start planning for graduation.  Your senior student should have already filled out a cap and gown form and turned it in to XXXXXX in the XXXXX office.  Please note that cost for purchasing the cap and gown is separate from the announcements and other graduation accessories available through Jostens.   XXHS will be responsible for ordering caps and gowns in bulk, saving you a couple dollars.  Students are permitted to re-use their sibling’s black cap and gown. 
If you have not already done so, please make a check payable to XXHS for $23.85 to purchase the cap and gown and turn it in to XXXXXXX, senior class advisor.  We would like to have all payments collected by December 21, 2010.  Please call XXXXXX at 301-XXX-XXXX if you have any questions. Thank you for your cooperation.


  1. HEre's what I don't get. Maybe someone can explain. I think this site examines some interesting topics in regards to MCPS.

    In regards to the fees, if the posters are so certain this is wrong, why not find someone to file a test case in court?

    I agree at times MCPS/schools create fees to generate revenue for questionable items.

    But it would also seem reasonable that kids/parents who want to sign up for courses that have additional costs pay for some/all of it.

    That said, if you believe MCPS is in error charging any fees for something like cap/gown where the kids, not the system, keeps the product, while not file suit to challenge this practice?

  2. Excellent question 11:02PM

    Superintendent Weast has taken care not to let these issues go to court. He wouldn't want that to happen because MCPS would lose. So the way this is handled is that ANYONE who refuses to pay an illegal fee gets the fee waived. The MCPS procedure now is to waive these fees for anyone that asks for a waiver.

    Therefore, there is no longer anything to appeal to the Board of Education and State Board of Education. There is no dispute.

    The fee goes away for those that know the law.

    The end result is that the parents that are paying these fees are those that are ignorant of the law.

    Here's an example of how a fee that was billed to a parent was magically waived when the fee was disputed.

    Any parent can have an illegal fee removed, all they have to do is ask.

    Isn't that a great system? Just get the cash from those that don't know the law?

  3. And 11:02 PM

    Your "reasonable" is not the law. In Maryland any course for which credit is given is available to all without charge.

    That's what it means to have a free public education for all in Maryland. Free public school classes.

    Under Maryland law no Board of Education, Superintendent, teacher or citizen can tack a fee on to a public school class just because they feel like it.

  4. Two items in the response:
    -Would seem easy to file suit. Pay the fee, then file suit.
    -Where in COMAR does it say what you believe it says?

  5. Pay the fee and then file suit for what?

    No receipts are given, no proof, nothing to take to appeal to Board of Education or State Board.
    The State Board reviews an appeal before it proceeds to Circuit Court. Nothing to review.

    This is how extortion works. Students are learning a great lesson in how to rip off their neighbors.

    If these fees were legal parents would get a receipt.

    COMAR? No, its called the Maryland Constitution and every child in Maryland is entitled to a free public education.

    See the recent failed attempt by State Senator Madaleno to charge students to ride a school bus. No bus fees in Maryland - no fees for anything that is part of the instructional program. It's called a free public education for a reason.

    All it would take to end this educational extortion is for an adult in charge of the school system to stand up for the right of Montgomery County Public School children to a free public education.

    So far those that have stood up:
    Superintendent? No
    Board of Education? No
    Principals? No
    Teachers? No

  6. your viewpoint may well be right, but short of case law (a court case defining "free public eduction") OR COMAR references you also have to acknowledge it may not be illegal.

    There are limits on all rights. Free speech in the US Constitutionis not truly free speech. There are limits on speech.

    Any rulings from the Attorney General of Maryland on his/her interpretation of the MD Constitution?

  7. @ anonymous: typically, where there is an administrative remedy already in place, courts would require "exhaustion of remedies" before a lawsuit. So, in the cases where parents have been prepared to pay the fee, and pursue administrative remedies as a precursor to a lawsuit, MCPS has waived the fee for the individual child. That certainly solves the problem for that individual family, but not for anyone else.

  8. @ anonymous

    You are clearly not reading the link that was posted.

    Call Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler. He can tell you everything you need to know. He just won't do it in public. He doesn't send his kids to public school and this isn't his issue.

    Main telephone number
    (410) 576-6300 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free in Maryland
    TDD: (410) 576-6372

  9. To parents who I am sure can afford the senior class fee:

    As a former MCPS senior class sponsor, I can tell you that graduation expenses are HUGE. Busses to take the orchestra to the venue, tickets, programs, flowers, and let's not forget the cost of the venue itself. It would be sweet to get all nostalgic and graduate on the football field, but should one rainy day ruin it for 400+ teenagers and their families?We coordinate the "recycling" caps and gowns for those simply tell us they cannot afford them. We waive the senior fee for anyone who cannot afford it. The fee pays for the graduation CEREMONY, not the right to get your diploma.

  10. A fee is an obligation. Unpaid obligations have and do prevent students from receiving their diplomas.

  11. @former MCPS senior class sponsor.

    So why is graduation free at some schools?

    If schools need money for graduation they need to take that up with the Board of Education.

    They don't get to just set an arbitrary fee and charge parents and guardians.

    All of the things you listed are the responsibility of the Board of Education.

    1. This thread is long past, however, a couple of points . . . First, all contributions ARE receipted. If you did not receive a receipt for a contribution, request one. Second, graduations are VERY expensive ($15K) and are not included in the annual MCPS Budget. DAR charges for the venue ($3K). Individual schools are charged for MCPS security ($2K), MCPS videographer ($1K), MCPS iinterpreters ($1K), and on-stage flowers (an expectation) ($500). Individual schools must pay their own security at an overtime rate ($3K). Individual schools are charged for transportation (ranges from $4K to $8K, depending on the number of busses). Individual schools pay to pring graduation tickets and programs ($4). Add to this the costs for senior activities, including Senior Breakfast (often donated by the PTSA), Senior Banquet ($12K beyond student ticket prices), and Prom ($15K beyond student ticket prices). Thankfully, the highly successful After-Prom Celebration is administered independently from the school with generous contributions from area sponsors. In fact, this program has been so successful in significantly minimizing teen injuries and fatalities on Prom night that area hospitals contribute to the program.

      Bottom line, Senior Class operating expenses are in the area of $45K. Individual Principals decide how this money is raised: 4 years of fund-raising activities, simultaneously promoting class spirit and comaraderie, or charging dues. The individual PTSA is the single most influential entity in this decisions, as the burden is, of course, on parents to decide how best to supporttheir children.

      Finally, all of this is a product of the status quo. Parents demand the best for their children, and "the best" cannot always be publicly funded through taxation.

    2. Nothing long past about this topic. It is still current. IF receipts are being given out NOW it is BECAUSE of the advocacy of the Parents' Coalition. We pointed out that slush fund cash collected from students was not given a receipt and was not and STILL is NOT accounted for in the MCPS budget documents!!!!! There is no justification whatsoever for the collection of fees from students without documentation IN THE BUDGET. The only reason the fees are not in the budget is because they are being collected ILLEGALLY!!!!!

      All legal fees are documented. A receipt to a student is a start, but does not in any way, shape or form make the collection of these fees legal.

      How is it that the BEST airfare, the BEST hotels and the BEST restaurants CAN be funded by the MCPS budget when administrators travel around the world to promote themselves, but you think that the same budget can't fund graduations???? That's pretty funny.

    3. FYI - Superintendent Joshua Starr spent $900,000 on a no bid, multi year contract with Gallup, Inc. WITHOUT Board of Education approval. He magically found $900,000, yet you think Graduations can't be funded from the MCPS budget? Dream on....

  12. If the BoE were to fully fund all graduations, the $$ has to come from somewhere else. All schools either have senior fees, or the senior class generates the funds necessary for graduation through other means like fundraisers, dances, etc. That's why some schools do not charge a senior fee. As a previous poster noted, graduation is expensive; at least 5 figures at all but the smallest schools.

  13. "If the BOE were to fully fund all graduations..."

    They would be doing their job!


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