Earlier this year, California State Senator Alex Padilla introduced legislation that would have made it easier to dismiss teachers who have been accused of misconduct involving sex, violence and drug offenses when the targets are children. In those particular circumstances, the due process provided for by the agreement between the union and the district would be altered to do away with the three-member panel and shifted the role of the administrative judge to advisory.
Although the bill passed easily in the Senate, it was never put up to a vote in the Assembly after the Education Committee defeated the measure with a vote of 5-2 — with four members abstaining.
According to Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, the four democrats on the Committee who chose not to vote, thus depriving the bill of the one additional vote it needed to come before the whole legislative body, did so under pressure from teachers unions who have been vocally opposed to it.
Still, Padilla isn’t giving up. Late in the summer, he said that he planned to introduce a slightly revised version of SB 1530, which has now been named SB 10.
His move coincided with the release of findings by state auditors who looked at the child abuse procedures in the Los Angeles Unified School District. According to the report, the length of time and the amount of effort it takes to go through the disciplinary process to the end forced the district in many circumstances to accept a resignation in exchange for settling the charges.
For this renewed effort to get SB 1530 on the books, Padilla intends to “narrowly tailor” the bill, and also “seek input from both the California Teachers Assn. and United Teachers Los Angeles.” Both education organizations had fought SB 1530 this spring. As previously penned, SB 1530 would have facilitated a speedier “dismissal process for certificated school personnel in cases involving sex abuse, drugs, or violence against children,” summarizes Padilla. The bill called for a change of law to allow school districts the ability to suspend or terminate an employee during the off months of summer, and give the school district the final say in firing a teacher who has been abusing drugs or students.
The push for the new procedures to deal with “serious or egregious unprofessional conduct” came about after several incidents of that nature came to light. The worst among them was the case of Mark Berndt and the Miramonte Elementary School, who was accused of, among other things, feeding his bodily fluids to his students.