Governor signs AB 1078, overriding local control
New law creates unintended consequences for local governance
A significant theme of the 2023 legislative session was the increased attention to local school boards by policymakers at the state level — both in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and within the Legislature. Fueled by larger, so-called “culture war” narratives, conflicts over curriculum, the termination of local superintendents by newly elected board majorities and new policies impacting LGBTQ students with the intent of increasing “parental rights,” these issues captured the attention of education news and policymakers in the latter half of the 2023 session.

Assemblymembers and Senators in the state Legislature introduced a number of bills directly responding to the breaking news stories coming out of local board meetings, and ultimately sent two to Gov. Newsom’s desk for consideration.

Conflict between districts and the Governor fuel passage of AB 1078

On the heels of confrontation with the Temecula Valley Unified School District over textbook and instructional material adoption, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1078 (Jackson, D-Moreno Valley) on Sept. 25, taking effect immediately. After multiple iterations, the enacted version of the bill allows for complaints to be filed directly with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction against local educational agencies that limit or prohibit the use of inclusive textbooks, instructional materials or school library materials considered to be in violation of the California FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful) Education Act. Adopted in 2011, the act provided for the diverse inclusion of individuals and groups who contributed to the history of California and the United States and prohibited instructional materials that reflected adversely upon these persons. AB 1078 also provides for immediate state intervention by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, including the assessment of financial penalties upon school districts that do not provide sufficient textbooks or instructional materials to its students.

At the time of this writing, SB 494 is expected to be signed by Gov. Newsom and become law, and it is anticipated that AB 1352 will make a return when the Legislature reconvenes in 2024.
CSBA advocacy
Although the bill was reportedly written to create a tool to address student access to textbooks and instructional materials that reflect the contributions of the diverse individuals and communities that make up California, CSBA took an Oppose position on AB 1078 due to the potential unintended consequences for school districts that may make it harder to address textbook insufficiency.

CSBA was successful in having provisions removed in earlier versions of the bill that would have eroded local control. Among those struck were requirements that a school district governing board get approval from the State Board of Education before making changes to district textbooks and instructional materials and a requirement that individual board members be called out by name on the district’s and county office of education’s website homepage for textbook deficiencies.

However, the bill still allows an insufficiency at a school district to be the subject of multiple independent complaints, investigations and potentially inconsistent enforcement actions taken by local, county and state officials. Furthermore, a district may not be given time to investigate or correct the issue — as is required by current statutes and regulations — before the state intervenes. Overlapping complaints may also result in conflicting remedy proposals, distract school district leaders and staff from the needs of students and result in greater loss of educational resources.

As a result of the urgency clause making the bill effective upon the Governor’s signature, LEAs have no lead time to address the new requirements.

CSBA hosted a webinar on Sept. 28 to address immediate concerns featuring legal and policy experts. View it at

Additional changes proposed for local governance
Legislators also responded to situations on the ground with bills that would alter local governing boards’ ability to terminate the employment of a district superintendent and authorize censure and removal of board members in certain cases.

Senate Bill 494 was authored by Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) in response to a situation in his home district. The bill would prohibit a school board from taking action to terminate a superintendent or assistant superintendent without cause at a special or emergency meeting of the governing board or within 30 calendar days after the first convening of the board after an election of one or more of its members. CSBA was successful in working with Sen. Newman and the Assembly Education Committee to secure amendments that protect a board’s authority to act during months when a regular meeting is not scheduled and kept the waiting period to no more than 30 calendar days. SB 494 is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

close up of a conference room table with a row of chairs behind and microphones atop
Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) authored AB 1352, which would prohibit the governing board of a school district from taking an action that contradicts any existing law requiring a district to have inclusive policies, practices and curriculum. It would also authorize the school board to censure a member or, by a 2/3 vote of the board, remove a member from office if the member violates the prohibition or prevents the board from conducting its business.

The bill was “gut-and-amended” — a process whereby the previous, unrelated language of the bill is removed and replaced with entirely new language — and CSBA Governmental Relations staff met with Bonta’s staff to inform her of the association’s concerns. Ultimately, Bonta opted to make AB 1352 a two-year bill, meaning it will not move forward in 2023 but is eligible to return in 2024, the second year of the 2023–24 legislative session.

CSBA’s Legislative Committee later took an official Oppose position on AB 1352. Governing boards already have the general authority under current law to develop and implement policies to address the actions of one or more members that violate their obligation or responsibilities, including censure. Extending additional power to the elected body to remove a voter-elected representative would bypass the direct involvement by the voters and in some cases, may lead to a result that runs contrary to the will of those voters.

What’s next?
At the time of this writing, SB 494 is expected to be signed by Gov. Newsom and become law, and it is anticipated that AB 1352 will make a return when the Legislature reconvenes in 2024. As these conversations around local control and board of education governance continue to evolve, CSBA will remain engaged with policymakers in Sacramento and provide additional updates and guidance to local governing board members as they contend with the changing landscape.