New laws that parents and teachers should know about: 2023

by Carol Kocivar | October 20, 2023 | 1 Comment
featured image

New laws to help children

California’s state legislative process concludes each year with the signing or veto of hundreds of bills.

This year, support for California’s children was a central theme in the legislative agenda. Neither the Legislature nor the Governor shied away from issues that keep parents up worrying at night.

California’s 120 elected legislators consider thousands of proposed policy changes each year. Ideas can become laws in two ways. One is through the state budget process and the other is through policy legislation.

Not counting resolutions, a total of 1,947 bills were introduced in 2023. Of these, 891 were signed into law, and 156 were vetoed. (For comparison, see our roundups of laws in 2022 and 2021. Also 2020, 2019, and 2018. For an excellent summary of the California legislative process and the jargon that keeps the newbies at bay, see Politico.)

This post summarizes new laws that affect school communities, with links to learn more. The short descriptions come from official sources, edited by Ed100 to translate them from legalese to something more readable. We suggest you share this information with your school community!

New and Noteworthy

The list below is long, so here are a few selected shorts:

Book Banning is illegal

Unlike some other states, California tends to embrace diversity. A new law establishes that book bans are illegal in California public schools. It prohibits censorship of instructional materials, and strengthens California law that requires schools to provide all students with access to textbooks that teach about California’s diverse communities.

LGBTQ+: Training educators

California educators must be trained to support LGBTQ+ students. Under The Safe and Supportive Schools Act, the California Department of Education is now required to develop an online training curriculum on cultural competency to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students. Schools are required to maintain documentation on the completion of the training by each employee.

Fentanyl: Responding to student overdoses

Under Melanie’s Law, SB 10 (2023), schools that serve grades 7 to 12 must include a protocol for responding to a student's opioid overdose as part of their annual school safety plan. The new law also requires or suggests preventive actions to be taken by the state Department of Education and by County Offices of Education.

Firearms: Tax to fund school safety/violence prevention

A new 11% tax on firearms and ammunition sold by gun manufacturers and dealers will generate an estimated $160 million annually to fund school safety and violence prevention programs. This includes initiatives to prevent school shootings, bolster firearm investigations, reduce retaliatory violence, and remove guns from domestic abusers.

School Meals: Cut the sugar and salt

California now mandates the latest recommended school meal nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It reduces sugar and salt and offers more whole grains in school meals.

Climate Change: Zero emission school buses in the future

Starting January 1, 2035, all newly purchased or contracted school buses must be zero-emission vehicles. Governor Newsom said in support: “Signing this bill demonstrates our state’s commitment to maintain a healthy environment for our children through improved air quality. California is steadfast in supporting a smooth and successful transition to zero-emissions vehicles, including school buses.”

School Safety: Schools must be ready to address violence

Each school’s School Safety Plan must now include procedures to assess and respond to reports of any dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity conducted or threatened at a school, at an activity sponsored by the school, or on a school bus serving the school. (You knew that your school has a safety plan, right? Here’s the Education code about it.)

Other noteworthy new laws

Gun Safety

Firearms minimum age and training

SB 2 Portantino

Strengthens California’s “public carry” laws by enhancing the existing licensing system, ensuring those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals, setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age, ensuring stronger firearm training requirements, and identifying certain sensitive public places.

Firearm identifiers

SB 452 Blakespear

Requires all semi automatic pistols sold in California to use microstamping technology. Guns sold or transferred in the state by 2028 must etch unique identifiers on expended cartridges, providing law enforcement with information to help identify suspects in crime-linked shootings.

Firearms and ammunition excise tax

AB 28 Gabriel

Imposes an 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition sold by gun manufacturers and dealers. Estimated to generate $160 million annually to fund school safety and violence prevention programs, including efforts to prevent school shootings, bolster firearm investigations, reduce retaliatory violence, and remove guns from domestic abusers.

Firearms: Prohibited persons — mental health

AB 455 Quirk-Silva and Papan

Creates a process by which a court can prohibit a person who is participating in a mental health diversion program from purchasing or possessing firearms.

Reporting lost or stolen firearms

AB 725 Lowenthal

Amends the definition of a firearm to include the frame or receiver of the weapon, including a firearm precursor part, for purposes of having to report a lost or stolen firearm.

Crimes: relinquishment of firearms

AB 732 Fong

Strengthens the process for removing firearms from people who are prohibited from owning them due to a criminal conviction.


Student Safety

Fentanyl Misuse and Overdose Prevention Task Force

AB 33 Bains

Brings together law enforcement, public health officials, and healthcare providers to coordinate an effective response to the fentanyl problem.

Child abduction survivors

AB 243 Alanis

Makes survivors of child abduction and members of their households eligible for the protections of the Safe at Home address confidentiality program.

California Food Safety Act - Preventing harmful ingredients

AB 418 Gabriel and Wicks

Prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of food products in California that contain red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil or propylparaben.

Childhood sexual assault

AB 452 Addis

Eliminates the time limit for the commencement of civil actions for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault.

Hate crime policies

AB 449 Ting

Requires state or local law enforcement agencies to adopt a hate crime policy.

Fentanyl test strips

AB 461 Ramos

Requires each community college and

California State University to provide information about the use and location of fentanyl test strips and requires that each campus health center stock and distribute fentanyl test strips.

Vehicles: Speed safety pilot program

AB 645 Friedman

Establishes a five-year pilot program to give local transportation authorities in the cities of San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, and the City and County of San Francisco the authority to install speed safety systems.

Fentanyl: Increase penalties

AB 701 Villapudua

Applies the existing weight enhancements that increase the penalty and fine for trafficking substances containing heroin, cocaine base, and cocaine to fentanyl.

Synthetic drugs required information to parents

AB 889 Patterson

Requires annual information to parents or guardians of the dangers associated with using synthetic drugs and posting this information on websites.

California Cybersecurity: Information sharing with schools

AB 1023 Papan

Expands the scope of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center by requiring coordination of cyber threat information sharing with school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools.

Social media platforms: drug safety policies

AB 1207 Petrie-Norris

Restricts advertising, marketing, packaging, and labeling of cannabis products.

Sexual assault and sexual violence prevention

AB 1138 Weber

Requires CSU and UC campuses to provide students with information on how to obtain a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) kit and transportation to and from a local SAFE or Sexual Abuse Response Team (SART) exam center for the SAFE kit to be administered.

Social media sexual exploitation

AB 1394 Wicks

Requires social media platforms to provide a mechanism for users to report child sexual abuse material in which they are depicted. Provides platforms 30 to 60 days after receiving a report to verify the content of the material and block it from reappearing.

Also provides victims of commercial sexual exploitation the right to sue social media platforms for having deployed features that were a substantial factor in causing their exploitation.

Human trafficking of a minor

SB 14 Grove

Reclassifies human trafficking of a minor for purposes of a commercial sex act as a “serious felony,” which would be treated as a strike under California’s three strikes law.

Social media platforms: controlled substances

SB 60 Umberg

Allows a person to seek a court order to require a social media platform to remove content that includes an offer to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away specified controlled substances in violation of state law.

Opioid overdose prevention

SB 234 Portantino

Requires stadiums, concert venues, and amusement parks to maintain unexpired doses of an opioid antagonist (such as Naloxone) on its premises and ensure that at least two employees are aware of the location. Provides indemnification.

Suspensions and expulsions

SB 274 Skinner

Prohibits suspension or expulsion of a student enrolled in 6th through 12th grade in a public school on the basis of willful defiance until July 1, 2029. Authorizes employees to refer students to school administrators for in-school interventions or supports, and requires that administrators document the actions taken in the student’s record and inform the referring employee of those actions.

Background: Historically, in California and around the nation, willful defiance suspensions have typically been levied for low-level disruptions such as wearing a hat backwards, falling asleep in class, or “talking back” to a teacher. Suspensions for willful defiance disproportionately impact students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students who are homeless or in foster care, and students with disabilities.

Background checks

SB 531 Bogh

Tightens the requirements for school districts and charter schools to conduct background checks of people who work with special education students on a contract basis.

School safety plans: violence

SB 671 Portantino

Requires school safety plans to include procedures to assess and respond to reports of any dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity that is being conducted or threatened to be conducted at the school, at an activity sponsored by the school, or on a school bus serving the school

Ebony Alert system

SB 673 Bradford

Establishes the Ebony Alert system to aid in the location of missing Black youths, including young women and girls, who are reported missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, at risk, developmentally disabled, cognitively impaired, or who have been abducted.


Special Needs

Individuals with Disabilities: Dignity for All Act

AB 248 Mathis

Replaces terms that have become offensive from California laws. Specifically, this law strikes the terms handicapped, mentally retarded, and retardation. In place of these terms, laws will use terms including developmental disabilities, impaired, or disability.

Inclusive college programs

AB 447 Arambula

Authorizes the CSU and requests the UC to establish and maintain inclusive college programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at four-year public postsecondary educational institutions

Special education: foster children

AB 723 Quirk-Silva

Ensures that foster students with disabilities will have better educational outcomes by allowing them to remain at their non-public school (NPS). When a student with a disability is prohibited from remaining in their NPS of origin, they often miss school for long periods of time while their IEP teams find a new placement and execute the required contracts.

Braille instructional aide

SB 497 Quirk-Silva

Requires a local educational agency to provide a braille instructional aide with information regarding the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program.

School accountability: pupils with exceptional needs

AB 1340 Garcia

Requires the Department of Education to report on its website disaggregated data by pupils with identified disabilities. Collecting data by individual disability will allow schools to provide the appropriate educational resources to their students.

Pupil discipline: restraint and seclusion

AB 1466 Weber

Requires each school district and charter school (LEA) to post data on their website related to restraint and seclusion.

Comprehensive school safety plans-special needs accommodations

SB 323 Portantino

Requires comprehensive school safety plans to address accommodations required by federal disability laws. Authorizes parents and others to bring a concern about a student's safety to the principal.

Health care coverage: pervasive developmental disorders or autism

SB 805 Portantino

Expands the qualifications for Qualified Autism Service professionals to cover behavioral health treatment for pervasive developmental disorders or autism.


Mental Health

Body Shaming

AB 10 Lowenthal

Requires the California Department of Education to develop and post on its website a model policy and resources about body shaming that local educational agencies may use to educate staff and pupils.

Mental health services: representation

AB 289 Holden

Expands the list of local stakeholders with which a county mental health program is required to develop the three-year program and expenditure plan and update to include youth or youth mental health organizations.

Mental Health Reform Behavioral Health Infrastructure Bond Act of 2023

AB 531 Irwin

Behavioral Health Services Act

SB 326 Eggman

These measures, together, placed Proposition 1 on the ballot for March 2024. If passed by voters, investments include $4.6 billion to support children through the Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health and the opportunity for enhanced student behavioral health services in public schools.

Consent to mental health services

AB 665 Carrillo

Aligns provisions of state law so that minors who are covered by Medi-Cal will have the same right to consent to mental health services as minors who do not rely upon Medi-Cal.



Pupil meals

AB 95 Hoover

Clarifies that a school may sell an additional meal to a pupil after that pupil has already received a nutritionally adequate meal that qualifies for federal reimbursement.

Opioid overdose prevention and treatment: Melanie’s Law

SB 10 Cortese

Requires schools that serve grades 7 to 12 to include a protocol for responding to a student's opioid overdose as part of their annual school safety plan. The California Department of Education must also post information on its website about opioid overdose prevention. Encourages county offices of education to establish working groups on fentanyl education in schools.

Medi-Cal billing option

AB 483 Muratsuchi:

Expands access to school-based health and mental health services by encouraging more schools to participate in the Federal medicaid matching funds program and to bill for more eligible services by reforming the process by which it audits claims.

Food safety: baby food

AB 899 Muratsuchi

Requires testing of baby food products for toxic elements and disclosure of this information to consumers.

Flavored tobacco ban

AB 935 Connolly:

Makes violations of the ban on flavored tobacco punishable by civil penalties.

California Privacy Rights Act of 2020: exemptions: abortion services

AB 1194 Carrillo

Ensures that consumer reproductive health information is subject to data privacy protections, without exception.

A signing message can be found here.

Emergency stock albuterol inhalers

AB 1283 Chen

Authorizes school districts (LEAs) to make emergency stock of albuterol inhalers available at schools. Authorizes school nurses or trained personnel who have volunteered to administer an albuterol inhaler to persons reasonably believed to be suffering from respiratory distress.

Epinephrine auto-injectors

AB1651 Sanchez

Requires schools to store epinephrine auto-injectors in an accessible location for emergency use.

School nurses

AB 1722 Dahle

Authorizes a local educational agency (LEA) to employ a licensed vocational nurse who is supervised by a credentialed school nurse employed by a different LEA.

Pupil meals

SB 348 Skinner

Mandates the latest recommended school meal nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reducing sugar and salt and offering more whole grains in school meals.

Medi-Cal: Children: Mobile Optometric Office

SB 502 Allen

Requires the Department of Health Care Services, subject to an appropriation, to cover vision services provided to low-income children statewide through a mobile optometric office.

Prescription drug pricing

SB 786 Portantino

Permits health care providers and pharmacies to continue to provide high quality affordable care, low cost drugs, and services to low income and uninsured patients.


School Governance

Governing boards: pupil members: compensation

AB 275 Ward

Establishes that students may receive course credit and/or financial compensation for their service on the governing board of a school district, county board of education, or charter school.

From the Assembly Floor Analysis: “Many students rely on the income of a part-time job to support their families and themselves, and the current lack of financial compensation for serving on a governing board is seen by some as a barrier to serving as a pupil member.”

School Districts: budgets public hearings

AB 721 Valencia

Increases transparency for parents and community members by allowing school districts the flexibility to post information regarding the school budget, including where and how the budget may be reviewed and the date and location of budget hearings, on the district website homepage.

Termination:school district superintendents and assistant superintendents

SB 494 Newman

Prohibits the governing board of a school district from taking action to terminate a superintendent or assistant superintendent or both, without cause, at a special or emergency meeting of the governing Board or within 30 days after the first convening of the governing board after an election at which one or more members of the governing board are elected or recalled.



Interscholastic athletic programs: emergency action plans

AB 1653 Sanchez

Requires guidelines, procedures and safety standards for monitoring the safety of practice and play when it's hot.

California Interscholastic Federation: racial discrimination, harassment, or hazing

AB 1327 Weber

Requires the California Department of Education to develop a standardized incident form to track racial discrimination, harassment, or hazing that occurs at high school sporting games or sporting events.

The bill also requires each district (LEA) that participates in the California Interscholastic Federation to post the form on their website.

Nevaeh Youth Sports Safety Act

AB 1467 Alanis

This bill requires a youth sports organization that elects to offer an athletic program to ensure that by January 1, 2027, its athletes have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) during any official practice or match.


School Bus/Transportation

Zero Emission School Buses

AB 579 Ting

Requires, commencing January 1, 2035, all newly purchased or contracted school buses of a local educational agency (LEA) be zero-emission vehicles.

“Signing this bill demonstrates our state’s commitment to maintaining a healthy environment for our children through improved air quality,” Governor Newsom wrote to the California State Assembly in a letter on Oct. 8. “California is steadfast in supporting a smooth and successful transition to zero-emissions vehicles, including school buses.”

Pupil transportation: driver qualifications

SB 88 Skinner

Establishes new requirements of drivers who transport students.

Zero-emission school buses

SB 775 Padilla

Authorizes school districts using zero-emission school buses to add signage to the bus identifying it as such. Authorizes the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop appropriate regulations.


Curriculum and Instruction

Right to Recess

SB 291 Newman

Requires schools to provide recess for at least 30 minutes and prohibits school staff from restricting a pupil’s recess.

Pupil instruction: handwriting

AB 446 Quirk-Silva

Defines handwriting, in the course of study for grades 1 to 6, to include cursive and joined italics.

Media literacy: curriculum frameworks

AB 873 Berman

Requires the Instructional Quality Commission to consider incorporating media literacy into educational frameworks the next time they are revised.

Instructional materials and curriculum: diversity

AB 1078 Jackson

Prohibits a school board from disallowing the use of an existing textbook, other instructional material, or curriculum that contains inclusive and diverse perspectives.

When a board adopts policies that prohibit discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying, that policy must include a statement that it applies to all acts related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the board as well as all acts of the governing board or body of the board the superintendent of the school district, and the county superintendent of schools

College and Career Access Pathways partnerships

AB 368 Holden

Requires community colleges to provide priority registration to high school students who participate in College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnerships. Courses offered in CCAP partnerships may be provided to students on either a high school campus or a community college campus.

The purpose of CCAP is to increase diversity in dual enrollment participation by targeting underrepresented students, defined in this measure as "high school students who meet one or more of the following criteria: first-time college students, low-income students, current or former foster youth, homeless students, students with disabilities, and students with dependent children."

State Seal of Biliteracy

AB 370 Addis

Modifies the criteria for demonstrating proficiency in English and a language other than English for purposes of earning the State Seal of Biliteracy

Newcomer pupils

AB 714 McCarty

Requires the California Department of Education to maintain information on its website relating to the education of recently arrived immigrant students and requires the Instructional Quality Commission to consider adding content to help teachers meet the unique needs of Newcomers.

Workplace Readiness Week: work permits

AB 800 Ortega

Designates a "Workplace Readiness Week" and requires all public high schools to observe that week; requires schools to provide information to students in grades 11 and 12 on labor rights included in the history-social science curriculum framework; and requires schools to provide students seeking a work permit with a document that clearly explains basic labor rights.

Computer science instruction

AB 1251 Rivas

Requires the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to convene a workgroup on credentialing for computer science education.


Foster Youth

Intersession programs: foster children and homeless youth: priority access

AB 373 Gipson

Requires a local educational agency operating an intersession program to grant priority access to homeless and foster children and youth.

Foster care: resource families

SB 407 Wiener

Requires resource families to demonstrate an ability and willingness to meet the needs of a child, regardless of the child's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and adds specified responsibilities to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and counties related to ensuring that foster youth will be placed with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or another diverse identity (LGBTQ)-affirming resource families


Public Libraries: Literacy

Literacy: Local Public Library Partnership Program

SB 321 Ashby

Establishes the Local Public Library Partnership Program and requires the State Librarian to coordinate with each local public library to ensure each student is issued a student success card by 3rd grade.


Attendance and Enrollment

Class size: report

SB 872 Min

Requires the California Department of Education to publish a report annually on the average class size in each public school.

Excused absences: religious retreats

AB 1503 Lee

Extends the excused absence provision for a student to attend a religious retreat from four hours or a half-day to one full day.

Excused absences

SB 350 Ashby

Extends the time permitted for an excused absence for attending a funeral.

Interdistrict attendance

SB 413 Bradford

Provides parents/guardians more time to prepare for the complex and often stressful appeals process they face when seeking to transfer their children to a different school district, while providing county boards more flexibility in processing every case.



The Safe and Supportive Schools Act

AB 5 Zbur

Requires the California Department of Education to complete the development of an online training curriculum on cultural competency in supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students. Requires the school districts and charter schools (LEAs) to maintain documentation about the completion of the training by each employee.

Change of gender, gender identifier

AB 223 Ward

Enhances protections for minors seeking changes of name or gender by making the proceedings presumptively confidential.

Advisory task force: LGBTQ+ pupil needs

SB 857 Laird

Requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an advisory task force to identify the statewide needs of LGBTQ+ pupils and report its findings.

All-gender restrooms

SB 760 Newman

Requires schools to provide at least one all-gender restroom for pupil use.

Questions & Comments

To comment or reply, please sign in .

user avatar
kathleenfay October 23, 2023 at 9:35 pm
What a wonderful summary of important legislation passed this year affecting the lives of California's children, youth, and families. Thank you for all your hard work on this!
-Kathleen Fay, Director of Legislation, California State PTA
©2003-2024 Jeff Camp
Design by SimpleSend

Sharing is caring!

Password Reset

Change your mind? Sign In.

Search all lesson and blog content here.

Welcome Back!

Login with Email

We will send your Login Link to your email
address. Click on the link and you will be
logged into Ed100. No more passwords to

Share via Email

Get on Board!
Learn how California's School System works so you can make a difference.
Our free lessons are short, easy to read, and up to date. Each lesson you complete earns a ticket for your school. You could win $1,000 for your PTA.

Join Ed100

Already a member? Login

Or Create Account