Capitol Alert

School districts should decide what students can wear at graduation, Jerry Brown says

Maria Luna, 23, of Sacramento, who is undocumented wears her graduation cap from California State University Sacramento.
Maria Luna, 23, of Sacramento, who is undocumented wears her graduation cap from California State University Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill that would have allowed California students to wear items of cultural significance on graduation day.

Assembly Bill 233, by Democrat Todd Gloria of San Diego, would have allowed on a statewide basis a custom that has been prohibited by some school districts in California.

Gloria’s office said the Education Code currently gives school districts the authority to develop and enforce reasonable dress code policies. But he said the bill – sponsored by California Indian Legal Services and supported by the California Teachers Association – was needed because some districts have adopted what’s known as “no adornment” policies for graduation festivities, which specifically ban the display of cultural adornments.

Brown said he believed the Constitution protects students’ rights to wear the cultural adornments, but said any disputes should be worked out by local school boards.

Gloria had argued that part of Californians’ values is honoring and celebrating the state’s diversity.

“Our students are no exception, and each of them has a right to recognize their cultural and religious traditions on Graduation Day and every day,” Gloria said, drawing on his own heritage to note its significance. “As a member of the Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, this bill has held personal significance to me.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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