Just In: CA Ballot Initiative to Target Sex Abusers in Schools
Vanessa Romo | November 1, 2013
A new proposed statewide ballot initiative that would allow school districts to fire employees accused of abusing children or selling drugs to children has been submitted for certification and could go before voters a year from now.
LA School Report has learned that the initiative, called “Stop Child Molesters, Sexual Abusers, and Drug Dealers from Working in California Schools Act,” was submitted to state officials by a Sacramento law firm that specializes in campaign and election law — Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP.
The proposed initiative contends that state laws “do not enable school districts to expeditiously and permanently protect innocent students and staff from school employees who perpetrate acts of child molestation, sexual abuse, drug dealing, and other egregious misconduct.”
The measure was filed on Tuesday through a letter to the state Attorney General’s office and it comes just weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 375, a bill intended to streamline the teacher dismissal process. AB 375, in part, grew out of an earlier bill from Senator Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, which was introduced in the wake of the Miramonte Elementary school sexual abuse scandal but died in the legislature last year.
Unlike AB 375, which was largely a procedural change that covered all infractions, the proposed measure more closely echoes Padilla’s bill, targeting only those accused of “egregious misconduct” relating to sex, drugs and child abuse. The ballot initiative would also differ in several procedural ways, including the removal of a statute of limitation on evidence gathered against an accused employee and the removal of limits on the number of witnesses.
The proposed measure is in the earliest stages. The Attorney General’s office has until Dec. 23 to title and summarize the initiative. After that, proponents have 150 days to circulate a petition throughout the state and collect 504,760 signatures.
In effect, the ballot measure represents an end-around the legislature, which has been caught between public outcry to remove predators and drug dealers from schools more quickly and the powerful teacher unions that have lobbied for a more comprehensive due process protocols. Upon vetoing AB 375, Brown said it was a step in the right direction but inevitably too problematic and “an imperfect solution.” He urged the legislature to try again.
In papers filed with the measure proposal, the law firm cited 10 cases of misconduct in school districts around state to demonstrate the need for such a focused law. The first referred to the Miramonte case, in which it said “a third grade school employee abusing dozens of students ages 6 to 10, including spoon-feeding semen and semen-laced cookies to blindfolded children, over a period of at least five school years.”
The proposed measure argues that school employees engaged in misconduct have “exploited loopholes” in current law “to delay and conceal dismissal proceedings.”
Public approval of the initiative, it concludes, would result in a “constitutional guarantee of students and staff to be safe and secure.”
Fred Glass, a spokesman for the California Federation of Teachers, said he could not comment on the proposed initiative until he learned more about it. Messages left for comment with the California Teachers Association were not returned.
Previous Posts: Gov. Brown’s Veto of AB 375 Leaves Teacher Dismissal Bill Uncertain; Brown Facing Pressure to Veto ‘Flawed’ Teacher Dismissal Bill; Lawmaker Supports Former Opponent’s Teacher Dismissal Bill.