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Guide to Fees

This page contains the GUIDE TO FEES put out by the Parents' Coalition in August of 2008.  Scroll down the page for the GUIDE TO FEES and all of the latest news on the illegal curricular fees being charged in Montgomery County Public Schools.
August 2013: ACLU Letter - School Fees Violate Constitution

August 2012:
 The Parents' Coalition Fifth Annual Survey on School Fees in MCPS middle and high schools at this link.

August 2011:
 The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland's Fourth Annual Survey on School Fees:

August 2010:  
The Third Annual Survey on School Fees is released by the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland.  The course fees listed in this survey are being charged in Montgomery County Public Schools for the 2010-11 school year.

Remember your child has a right to a free public education in the State of Maryland. 

Course fees are not to be charged in Maryland according to the Maryland Attorney General's office. 

If you decide to pay these fees consider them a donation to your local principal's fund. The fees do not go into the MCPS Operating or Capital Budgets. These fees do not go to teacher salaries or building maintenance.
September 2009:  Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland releases the Second Annual List of School Fees showing the illegal curricular fees being charged in MCPS high schools for the 2009-2010 school year.

January 7, 2009:  Press Release from Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland:  Returning Free Public Schools to Montgomery County HERE.

January 30, 2009:  MCPS Board of Education cited for violation of Maryland Open Meetings Act on September 9, 2008 for failure to disclose Closed Session discussion of Curricular Fees.


11/20/08-Rockville, MD: Board President on Curricular Fees and Transparency

Click here to see video statements from Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education President Shirley Brandman.  Members of the Montgomery County Delegation questioned President Brandman about the MCPS policy of charging students for items related to curriculum, the posting of the names of student debtors, and the public availability of MCPS procurement information. President Brandman makes it clear that MCPS will continue to charge students for items directly related to curriculum.


School Fees according to Maryland law as explained by MCPS Board of Education's own attorney, Judith Bresler.  Click here to read her explanation.


Monday, October 27, 2008 at 9 AM the Montgomery County Council's Education Committee received an update on curriculum fees charged to MCPS students.  However, the packet prepared by Council staff does not review the Maryland Constitution, Attorney General Opinions or advice, Maryland Statutes, or Maryland State Board of Education opinions.  It appears the Council's Education committee will discuss curriculum fees without consideration of Maryland law.  Click here to read the packet prepared by Council staff for the Oct. 27th update.

News Alert: Howard County Public Schools suspends co
Click here to read article on decision of Howard County Superintendent to suspend collection of fees.


   What the Maryland Attorney General says about Curricular Fees

On August 19, 2008, MCPS Chief School Performance Officer Stephen Bedford issued a countywide memo (
click here to read full text) to all principals and teachers that states, in part, "There may be individuals or organizations that attempt to tell you that no fees may be charged.  This is their interpretation of the law".  This memo is being distributed by MCCPTA as well.

Here is what the memo from MCPS does not tell principals and teachers: The "person" that is interpreting the law is the Attorney General for the State of Maryland.

The day before MCPS issued the above memo to all staff, Superintendent Weast received a letter from the Chief Counsel to the Maryland State Board of Education.  The letter was a restatement of Maryland law as it currently exists and quoted from an opinion of the Maryland Attorney General on the issue of curricular fees in Maryland public schools.                                                      Click here
to read the full text of the letter from the Maryland Attorney General's office by the Chief Counsel to the Maryland State Board of Education.                                           Click here to read the attachments to her letter that show the legal opinions to support her cover letter.  The letter was written by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth M. Kameen, chief counsel to the Maryland State Department of Education.

2008-2009: Click here to see the List of Course Fees that were being charged to Montgomery County Public School (Maryland) high school students during the 2008-09 school year.

Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD

Contact us by sending an e-mail to:

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Watch the Whitman High School student report on the illegal curricular fees being charged in Montgomery County Public Schools in the "Whitman Shorts" video above.

See the lists of student debtors posted on the walls at Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. 

See Board of Education President and Whitman parent Shirley Brandman say "I really don't know what that incident refers to" when asked about the posting of student names on school walls.
Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Guide to fees for textbooks and materials of instruction
Rules for charging fees for textbooks and instructional materials in Maryland

Maryland law is clear: Public schools are not permitted to charge fees for textbooks and instructional materials.   The law has been interpreted and reaffirmed by the courts.

Maryland Constitution  Article VIII, Section I of the Maryland Constitution requires the General Assembly to establish and maintain "a thorough and efficient system of Free Public Schools." In interpreting this provision, the Court of Appeals has said that it "means that schools must be open to all without expense." State of Maryland ex rel. Clark v. The Maryland Institute for the promotion of the Mechanic Arts, 87 Md. 643, 661 (1898). The Maryland Attorney General has opined that at the very least  "anything directly related to a school's curriculum must be available to all without charge." [Edition] 72 - Opinions of the  Attorney General 262, 267 (1987). Affirming the continued applicability of the Constitution and the opinion of the Attorney General, both were cited in opinion No. 03-29 of the Maryland State Department of Education, dated August 27, 2003.

Maryland State Code § 7-106. Textbooks, materials of instruction, and supplies. (a) Selection and purchase of school materials. On the recommendation of the county superintendent and subject to the provisions of this article, each county board shall adopt procedures for the selection and purchase of the following necessary items, at the lowest price consistent with good quality, for use in the public schools:        (1)Textbooks;    (2)Supplementary readers;  (3) Materials of instruction;  (4) Visual and auditory aids;  (5) Stationery; and   (6) School supplies.   (c) Materials to be furnished free of charge and in sufficient quantities.- Each county board shall furnish the materials and supplies listed in subsection (a) of this section: (1) Free of cost for use in the public schools; and (2) In sufficient quantities for the different grades in the public schools.  [An. Code 1957, art. 77, § 79; 1978, ch. 22, § 2; 1986, ch. 571; 1992, ch. 290.]

Questions and Answers

1. My school charges fees for some books and materials, but has offered to accommodate students who cannot afford to pay. Is that okay?

No student or parent should have to go through the embarrassment of asking for an “accommodation” to obtain books and materials that are required, under law, to be provided free of cost to all students. And since fees are illegal, no student – wealthy or disadvantaged - should ever be asked to pay for a required book or other material of instruction.

2. My school is issuing “obligation” notices to students who don’t pay the fees. Students who don’t pay won’t be allowed to participate in graduation and other punitive action will be taken. What should I do?

Many administrators and teachers are not aware that charging fees for textbooks and instructional materials is illegal. Politely share this brochure with your school administrators and teachers to let them know that fees for textbooks, instructional materials, and anything related to a school’s curriculum are illegal in Maryland. The schools are funded by taxpayers to provide these materials, so they should not be asking parents or students to cover these costs.

3. How should I report suspected violations of the law?

Send a description of the violation to the Attorney General of Maryland at or by postal mail to Office of the Attorney General, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21209.
Aug 10, 2008

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