Teacher Dismissal Bill: No Added Concern for Predators

Assembly member Joan Buchanan

Assembly member Joan Buchanan

The teacher dismissal bill awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown‘s signature includes no specific language for streamlining the process of removing teachers for sexual and physical abuse, which had been the focus of earlier bills. The final version simply creates protocols to govern any dismissal case.

Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign it.

Assembly Bill 375, which passed both houses of the legislature last week, grew out of other bills, more narrowly written, that focused on teachers who posed threats to children. Those efforts, opposed by teachers unions, evolved into a wider bill that creates overall procedures with deadlines when none were in place before, prompting some lawmakers were characterizing as too long, too expensive and too cumbersome.

Sponsored by Joan Buchanan, a northern California Democrat and new chair of the Assembly’s education committee, the final version has the strong support of the unions, in part, for maintaining a three-member panel that decides a case — two teachers and an administrative law judge — and for loosening the eligibility requirements for teachers to serve on the panel.

But critics of the bill before Brown argue that it betrays the purpose of the original legislation, denying districts an explicit pathway to removing teachers accused of immoral and illegal behavior.

“For me, I see no benefit in the bill,” John Deasy, the LA Unified superintendent, told LA School Report, referring AB 375. “It neither strengthened nor weakened the current law. In other words it does not help. I look for legislation that makes it easier for districts to dismiss teaches who harm students quickly and cost effectively.”

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Lawmaker Supports Former Opponent’s Teacher Dismissal Bill

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced Thursday that he was shelving SB 10, his controversial bill intended to speed up and streamline the teacher dismissal process in California public schools.

Now, Padilla plans to join forces with Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), head of the Assembly’s Education Committee, who introduced her own alternative teacher dismissal bill this week.

Buchanan might seem like an unexpected ally for Padilla, given that Buchanan voted no (along with fellow Democrat Tom Ammiano) on the previous version of Padilla’s bill, SB 1530, which was endorsed by LAUSD and opposed by UTLA.

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LA Times: Streamline Teacher Firing Now

“There is no reasonable explanation for why firing a teacher in California is such a time-consuming, tortuous and expensive procedure… Appeals often drag on for years — during which the school district must pay the teachers’ salaries and benefits — and almost invariably favor the teachers… The dysfunctional process benefits no one except bad teachers. The Legislature has been giving in to union resistance for far too long; it’s time to pass real yet reasonable reform.” — LA Times editorial


Teacher Dismissal Bill, Redux

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima)

SB 10, a bill aimed at streamlining the dismissal process for teachers accused of sexual misconducted, was introduced earlier this week and is now out in a full-text version.

A carbon copy of SB 1530 (the previous bill seeking to address this issue) SB 10 is among a handful of proposals sure to garner attention even before the session begins for real in January. As with its predecessor, SB 10 was submitted by Senator Alex Padilla.

Earlier this year, the teachers union seemed initially to be unopposed to SB 1530, which passed easily in the Senate, but then dug in its heels in the Assembly and helped to kill it. This time, lawmakers may think twice about doing the bidding of the teacher lobby.  One legislator who helped defeat the bill, Betsy Butler, was portrayed in a CNN report as having protected pedophile teachers and lost her election in November by a close margin. (See bill here. See CNN report here).

Previous posts: Union Points Fingers on Sex Abuse, Betsy Butler: Teachers Union Help Not Enough?

Board Preview: Doe v. Deasy; Teacher Dismissals

The LAUSD Board will hold a special closed session on Tuesday, December 4 to confer with its legal counsel about the Doe v. Deasy case and to discuss labor negotiations:

Board Members Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan will also introduce a resolution calling on state legislators to change “the lengthy, expensive [teacher] dismissal process required by state law,” which is a response to the legislature’s failure to pass SB 1530.

Commentary: Union dishes out blame on sex abuse

UTLA: Everything to Hinder, Nothing to Help?

Lots of blame was dished out last week after a state audit found weak dismissal and reporting practices at LAUSD regarding teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

Especially vocal was UTLA president Warren Fletcher, who has consistently lobbed criticism at LAUSD for how it has managed the scandal.

Now I am a Prop-30-supporting-dyed-in-the-wool union Democrat, but I have to ask – shouldn’t the teachers union also take some responsibility here?  Not if you ask the current UTLA leadership, which continues to insist on sacrificing student well-being to protect even pedophiles.

But things could be changing.
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Lawmakers Won’t Comment On Sex Abuse Vote

You might enjoy (or be appalled by) this Thursday night segment from the CNN Show Anderson Cooper 360 including footage of reporter Kyung Lah chasing the four SB1530 abstainers around the statehouse.
It’s a little heavy-handed, but three of the four legislators play right into CNN’s hands by ducking interviews and issuing terse “no comments” while waiting for the elevator to arrive.  (Special Interests Over Child Interests?)

Furious Debate Over “Pupil Progress”

Rumors are flying fast and furious about Assembly Bill 5, a proposed amendment to the Stull Act offered by San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes.

The latest word from EdSource is that AB 5 is being revised slightly to try and mollify opponents and also to help make the state eligible for a No Child Left Behind waiver (see: Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5: Are they enough?). If approved, the amended bill could go back to the State Senate education committee early next week. But it’s not clear that’s going to happen without further changes. Romero, EdVoice and other education reformers are still strongly opposed to the law — as is LAUSD’s John Deasy.

What is AB 5? Why do ed reform groups, not to mention Deasy, hate it so much? And what is Fuentes offering to change?

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Richard Bloom Criticizes Betsy Butler For SB 1530 Vote

Mayor Bloom

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, a Democrat running for the 50th State Assembly seat against Democratic incumbent Betsy Butler, isn’t refraining from criticizing his opponent for her abstention during the committee vote on SB 1530.

“I’ve never done that in 13 years of being a public official,” he told me earlier this week. “I think it’s our responsibility as elected officials to register our opinions and have discourse on them. That’s what public discourse is about.”

As you can read below, Bloom doesn’t mince words about what he thinks of Butler’s actions. Whether the vote will hurt Butler (or whether a revised version of the Padilla legislation will come out of this messy process) remains unknown.

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