Just what California's ailing schools need….The ACLU filed a lawsuit in L.A Superior Court suing California for allowing school districts to charge for books and other educational supplies. The ACLU says these practices violate the clause of the California Constitution guaranteeing a free education.

The ACLU said in a statement that the lawsuit follows an investigation that uncovered a widespread practice of forcing students to purchase textbooks, workbooks and assigned novels. School districts also charged students to take Advanced Placement examinations, which are tests for college credit for certain classes, even though taking the exams is a course requirement. The suit contends the state is discriminating against poor children.

The ACLU says its preliminary investigation found 40 districts charging fees for academic programs. In one case, a student claims a school required $440 annually in course and uniform fees.

Among the fees at other schools:

All public high schools in Orange County's Tustin Unified School District charge for art, music, “automotive technology,” fashion design, interior design and Web development; L.A County's Arcadia High School charges for art and music; and, California High School in Contra Costa County charges for foreign language workbooks.

Read the report here.

And the complaint.

LA Weekly