District refunds activity fee following court decision
As of May 11, the district is offering a refund for the $50 activity fee that middle and high school families were asked to pay at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.
The district changed the procedure as a result of a March 27, 2012 court case, Zweig v. The Metropolitan St. Louis School District, that ruled that districts could not charge an activity fee, unless it applies only to the activities in which a student is participating.
“A parent brought the issue to the attention of administrators who consulted with the district’s law firm and confirmed the recent ruling did, in fact, make the activity fee, as Ladue Schools had structured it, in opposition to this court decision,” Ladue school district Communications Director Susan Dielmann.
The district then mailed letters to the families of all middle and high school students May 10, explaining the recent case and directing any families who wanted a refund to complete and submit a form on the district website. Those who request refunds will receive checks in the mail by June of this year. In the future, a universal activity fee will not be charged.
“No activity fees will be charged for the 2012-13 school year,” Dielmann said. “In the future, should any type of “activity fee” be pursued, it would need to be tied to specific activities and charged only for students who specifically participate in those activities.”
Though the universal activity has been abolished, the change has its detractors. Many supporters of the original policy believe that the activity fee unified the school and increased support for all clubs and activities.
“I think it increases spirit and student support for all activities when all the students are helping to provide for everyone else’s activities in a collective fundraising effort, versus just paying for their individual expenses,” STUCO president Collin Christner said. “For instance, if the football team does really well and the Dad’s Club raises a lot of money at their games, then the Dad’s Club has more resources to pay for other activities, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask students to pay a fee for all activities.” #