Are student transportation fees legal? That's the contentious issue dividing the Rowland Unified School District and the Boosters Club at Nogales High School.

Superintendent Ruben Frutos said the district charges a small fee to subsidize transportation to extracurricular events, including sports. Frutos said the fee is $50 a year for the first activity, $25 for a second, $12.50 for a third and free after that.

"Nogales High School in Rowland Unified School District is illegally charging students transportation fees and making them buy a ASB card if they are in extracurricular activities. This is illegal according to the education code," said Booster Tricia Acevez.

She said that parents and students have been complaining about the fees for the last three years. This year, they decided to confront the superintendent and Principal Nancy Padilla.

Frutos says two attorneys (the district's own and another firm) both concluded that the fees are legal.

"In short, the district may charge a non-mandatory transportation fee so long as students may also utilize other means of transportation," wrote Attorney Jonathan Pearl in an email.

"California Education Code section 39807.5 specifically authorizes the district to charge students for non-mandatory home-to-school transportation, and by analogy, also for non-mandatory transportation for busing to extracurricular events," Pearl explained.

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