What is a Studio Teacher?
A Studio Teacher in the State of California is responsible for the education and welfare of union and non-union minors employed by film, TV and commercial producers, as well as reality shows, stage shows, rodeos, amusement park shows, and many other areas of entertainment. Studio Teachers must bear Elementary and Secondary teaching credentials and pass a special child welfare examination leading to certification (a “green card”) by the State of California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Who is responsible for hiring a Studio Teacher?
- In the early years of the movie business, Studio Teachers were employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District to educate the young actors signed to studio contracts. Over time, Studio Teachers were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and became employees of producers. As representatives of the Department of Labor, the Studio Teachers are now responsible for caring and attending to the health, safety, and morals of minors in the field of entertainment. The law demands that producers provide a certified Studio Teacher as well as a school facility, such as a classroom, trailer, or other schooling area with adequate lighting, heating, desks and chairs.
What are the responsibilities of a Studio Teacher?
- A Studio Teacher has the responsibility for caring and attending to the health, safety, and morals of minors under sixteen (16) years of age. The Studio Teacher is responsible for only the schooling (not the welfare) of a 16-17 year-old, if the minor is still enrolled in school. The Studio Teacher is responsible for making sure that the minor’s work permit is valid, monitoring the working hours of all minors on set, educating the minor for 3 hours on a school day, and making sure that the child is fed every 6 hours (or when hungry or thirsty). The Studio Teacher should be on set with the minor(s) from the time they begin working until the last minor on set is sent home. There must be a ratio of 1 Studio Teacher per 10 minors during a school day and 1 Studio Teacher per 20 minors on a non-school day. All Studio Teachers must carry with them a valid Studio Teacher’s license, issued by the State of California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
What are the responsibilities of the parent or guardian of the minor?
- All minors are required to obtain a work permit from the Department of Labor. These permits are free but do require an application with the minor’s school stamp of approval, to ensure that the student is maintaining adequate grades. Parents are required to bring 3 hours of school work and all necessary school supplies to set with the child on a school day. The Studio Teacher is responsible for all schooling on set, even if the child is home schooled. All assignments must be given to the Studio Teacher and parents are not permitted to be in the classroom while the minors are in school. Parents/Guardians do not have the authority to give permission for minors to work overtime.
What do I do if my child show up on set where there is NOT a Studio Teacher?
- Take your child home. If the producer or filmmaker has chosen to break the law, it is probably not a project in which your child should participate. There is no excuse for not having a Studio Teacher on set for your child. Studio Teachers are required year-round, weekdays and weekends, for union and non-union performers and projects, for principal roles and background players, for kids who attend regular school or are home schooled, and for paid and unpaid roles. The only time a Studio Teacher is not required is if the minor is over the age of 16 AND has graduated from high school (either by passing the high school proficiency test or by graduating early).
Who can I call if the Studio Teacher is not doing his/her job of educating and protecting a minor on set?
- Parents often don’t want to raise a concern about the teacher to production, for fear of how it could impact their child’s job or long-term career. So who holds the Studio Teachers accountable? On one-day jobs, like commercials or photo sessions, a Studio Teacher is unlikely to be fired or suffer any employment repercussions. However, that doesn’t mean that the parent should not speak up. You are your child’s advocate and if you have any concerns about the safety or education of your child, you should voice your concern to someone on the production staff. If you feel that there has been a violation of any of the child labor laws, then you should call the Labor Commissioner and file a formal complaint. If you are concerned about being identified to production or the Studio Teacher, you can file your complaint anonymously. A violation of child labor laws is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $2,500 – $5,000 and/or up to 60 days of jail time.
Working Hours of Minors
As defined by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
8 CCR Section 11755.2—Use of Studio Teachers.
Employers shall provide a studio teacher on each call for minors from age 15 days to their sixteenth birthday, and for minors from age 16 to 18 years when required for the education of the minor. One studio teacher must be provided for each group of 10 minors or fraction thereof. With respect to minors age 15 days to 16 years, one studio teacher must be provided for each group of 20 minors or fraction thereof on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or during school vacation periods.
8 CCR Section 11755.3—Studio Teacher’s Authority.
The studio teacher, in addition to teaching, shall also have the responsibility for caring and attending to the health, safety and morals of minors under 16 years of age for whom they have been provided by the employer, while such minors are engaged or employed in any activity pertaining to the entertainment industry and subject to these regulations. In the discharge of these responsibilities, the studio teacher shall take cognizance of such factors as working conditions, physical surroundings, signs of the minor’s mental and physical fatigue, and the demands placed upon the minor in relation to the minor’s age, agility, strength and stamina. The studio teacher may refuse to allow the engagement of a minor on a set or location and may remove the minor therefrom, if in the judgment of the studio teacher, conditions are such as to present a danger to the health, safety or morals of the minor. Any such action by the studio teacher may be immediately appealed to the Labor Commissioner who may affirm or countermand such action.
- a minor must be provided with at least 3 hours of schooling per day while minor’s school is in session [California Education Code, Sec. 48224]
- children in grades 1-6 must be instructed between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.; grades 7-12 must be instructed between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. [California Education Code, Sec. 48225.5]
- schools are to provide schoolwork for the student whether on a short-term or long-term engagement [Los Angeles Board of Education, Bulletin M-95, 8/30/99]
- assignments are to cover days of absence from school [Los Angeles Board of Education, Bulletin M-95]
- long-term productions in excess of two days may enroll pupil in independent study [Los Angeles Board of Education, Bulletin M-95] Independent Study is permissible by State Law Educ. Code Sec. 51745- 46 and Administrative Code, Title 5, Sec. 11700-11703.
- no one shall be allowed in an area utilized by the producer as a school facility except the teacher and the minors being taught (SAG Agreement)