New laws affecting California’s school districts
The 2019 legislative session resulted in numerous bills impacting K-12 education, including the two bills described below that took effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
cannabis versus prescription medications
Classified staff probationary periods
Assembly Bill 1353 (Wicks, D-Oakland) changes the probationary period for many classified employees, shortening the maximum probationary period for classified school district employees from the previous maximum period of one year to a period not exceeding six months, or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer. The bill will impact many school districts throughout the state.

AB 1353 applies expressly to school districts specified in Education Code section 45113 (school districts not incorporating the merit system). The bill does not apply to county offices of education, nor to school districts using a merit-based system for classified employees. Merit system school districts use an independent personnel commission for hiring and retention decisions, and already require a probationary period no longer than six months.

The vast majority of school districts are non-merit system districts, and they have relied on the Education Code requirements and their collective bargaining agreements to determine the length of classified employees’ probationary periods. AB 1353 attempts to align non-merit districts with merit districts by eliminating the difference in probationary periods.

The new law will not apply to districts that have existing agreements with their classified union until the expiration or renewal of that agreement. When negotiating the effect of this new law, districts may want to insist upon incorporating the specific statutory language of “six months or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer,” to allow the greatest flexibility in applying probationary periods to different classifications of employees depending on hire date. For example, a 10-month employee hired in May will have a longer probationary period under the 130 days of paid service as compared to the six-month time period.

AB 1353 was opposed by CSBA, as shortening the probationary period may hinder districts from thoroughly vetting the suitability of a new hire. Districts should consult with their human resources directors to review their evaluation process and make adjustments to comply and incorporate the shorter evaluation time period, and to ensure that their processes allow them to properly evaluate and vet employees during the shortened probationary period. Highly effective school staff are crucial to providing an excellent education to students, and the shortened probationary period makes effective staff evaluation processes even more important.

For more information, see CSBA’s in-depth blog post on AB 1353 at, and CSBA’s revised sample policy BP 4216 – Probationary/Permanent Status.

School site administration of medical cannabis
Senate Bill 223 (Hill, D-San Mateo) allows (but does not compel) school districts, county offices of education and charter schools to adopt a policy regarding the administration of medicinal cannabis to students on campus. The new law was named “Jojo’s Act” for a California teenager who uses medicinal cannabis to control debilitating seizures.

Under prior law, medical cannabis could not be consumed on or brought to school campuses and students who required an administration of medicinal cannabis during the school day had to be picked up by their parents and taken off school campus in order to receive their medicine. SB 223 permits a governing board to adopt a policy to allow a parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to their child on school grounds in a non-smoking and non-vaping form (i.e. oil, capsule, tincture, topical cream or similar product), if the student is a qualified medical cannabis patient with a valid doctor’s recommendation.

Under the new law, a parent or guardian must provide a valid written medical recommendation for the student to be kept on file at the school and must sign in at the school site each time before administering medicinal cannabis. Parents cannot administer medical cannabis in a way that disrupts the educational environment or exposes other students, and must remove any remaining medicinal cannabis from the school site after administering. The law does not allow for school employees to administer cannabis to students.

Of note, districts that pass a policy in response to SB 223 can rescind the board policy at a subsequent regularly scheduled board meeting, or a special meeting if circumstances necessitate an immediate change to the policy, including if districts fear a loss of federal funding as a result of the policy.

For more information, see CSBA’s in-depth blog post on SB 223 at, and CSBA’s sample policies BP/AR 5141.21.

CSBA’s What’s New for 2020 report, available at, is a compendium of the new laws that will impact K-12 education in California and is a great resource for district and county board members.
Please note that the information provided here by CSBA is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. Please contact your legal counsel for questions related to this information.