State senator wants school boards to have more power in abuse cases
Alarmed by the recent arrests of Los Angeles teachers on suspicion of sex-related crimes, a state lawmaker said Friday that he will introduce legislation to make it easier to remove teachers from the classroom and fire them for misconduct involving students.
State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) said he is working with officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District to draft legislation that addresses cases in which teachers are involved in sex abuse or violence against students. The bill would apply to districts throughout the state.
"It’s surprising and astonishing that a lot of these disciplinary cases can be appealed from the school board to this little-known committee that includes two teachers," Padilla said. "That doesn’t make sense to me. That’s why we elect school board members, and they are the ones we ought to hold accountable. I want to empower them with the finality of personnel decisions."
His proposal would allow an appeal to an administrative law judge, whose finding would only be advisory to the board in sex abuse and violence cases involving minors.
Padilla said his bill would also make it easier for districts to remove teachers from the classroom when they are suspected of misconduct and to put them on leave without pay, with the idea they could get back pay if the charges are proved to be unfounded.
"There is no sense keeping them on the payroll," Padilla said. The senator said he has been working with board member Nury Martinez and introduced a spot bill, SB 1530, last week with the idea of amending it to address school discipline in the next three weeks.
Marla Eby, a spokeswoman for United Teachers Los Angeles, said the union will weigh in when the bill is introduced and the union can review its language.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), left, wants to give school boards more power in cases involving teachers abusing students. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press