Independent (virtual) studies is now an option for students, parents

August 5, 2021 /

With the passage of Assembly Bill 130, students will now have the option to partake in a virtual independent studies program for the upcoming school year as the pandemic it still very present.

On July 9, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 130 into law. AB 130 makes changes to independent study and states that districts must provide a virtual independent studies option for parents who aren’t comfortable sending their children to school. School districts may choose to contract with a county office of education (COE) or establish an interdistrict transfer agreement with another school district to meet the requirement of offering independent studies for the 2021–22 school year.

The California Department of Education released a statement on July 15 that highlighted new elements for the 2021-2022 school year that local educational agencies need to be aware of. These elements included, but were not limited to, independent studies offering requirements, a provision for waivers of the offering requirements, as well as required parent notification, pupil-parent-educator conferences, and additions to board policies and written agreements.

“In order to communicate the educational options for families and their pupils in the 2021–22 school year, AB 130 has a requirement that school districts and COEs notify parents and guardians of their options to enroll their pupil in in-person instruction or IS during the 2021–22 school year,” the CDE proclaims.

These notices should include written information that discusses the right to request a pupil-parent-educator conference meeting prior to enrollment, pupil rights regarding procedures for enrolling, disenrolling, and reenrolling in independent studies, and the synchronous and asynchronous instructional time that a pupil will have access to as part of independent studies.

In addition, before a student can sign the independent study written agreement, all local educational agencies offering independent studies must hold a pupil-parent-educator conference or school meeting via phone, videoconference, or in-person.

The CDE also states that in order to generate apportionment for independent studies, all local education agencies “must have adopted and implemented board policies and written agreements that meet specific criteria. AB 130 added new elements to be included in board policies and written agreements.”

The new requirements for board policies and written agreements can be found here.

For the 2021–22 school year only, written agreements must be signed no later than 30 days after the first day of instruction. However, it is important to note that all other independent study requirements must be met upon commencement of instruction. For any other school year, written agreements must be signed prior to commencement of independent study.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the following CDE staff accordingly.

  • For questions regarding the implementation of an Independent Study Program, please contact independentstudy@cde.ca.gov.
  • For questions regarding meeting attendance accounting, apportionment, and instructional time requirements in implementing the independent study provisions of AB 130, please contact attendanceaccounting@cde.ca.gov.