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Legislative audit finds Utah schools are charging students excessive fees for extracurricular activities

Posted at 10:18 PM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-20 00:18:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A legislative audit found Utah schools are charging students excessive fees to participate in sports or clubs outside of the classroom.

The auditor looked at 20 unidentified schools across the state and found several cases of students being charged fees over $1000.

The report indicated at one school, a cheerleader paid $2500 in fees and at another school, a student paid more than $1400 to be in the marching band.

“I think the tone of the audit, there are some concerning things,” said Jake Dinsdale, the audit supervisor. “Our biggest concern is simply, what does the law say and how is it being followed.”

The audit points to a section of the Utah Code that says, “no student shall be denied the opportunity to participate in a school-sponsored class or activity because of an inability to pay a fee.” Auditors are concerned the high fees could be a road block for some low-income students.

While the audit did not name any specific school districts, FOX13 reached out to several along the Wasatch front.

“It raises the level of discussion of how we will work with all students,” said Jeff Haney, spokesperson for the Canyons School District.

Both the Canyons and Granite school districts said they will never deny any student the chance to be a part of an activity because of financial reasons.

“If a student comes to us and says, ‘hey, I really would like to participate, but I’m not sure I can,’ we will work with that student,” Haney said.

“There should be no situation where a student was turned away from an activity or participating simply because they couldn’t afford the fee,” said Ben Horsley of the Granite School District.

Districts realize fees are always unpopular, but necessary to maintain extracurricular activities that are integral to the high school experience.

“We want our students to be invested,” Haney said.

Both the Granite and Canyons districts plan to evaluate their fee schedule and look for areas where they can improve. They want to make it clear to everyone that no student should be scared away from sports or clubs because of the cost.

“If any student wants to participate, we will make sure they participate,” Haney said.