California Senate supports streamlining teacher removal over crimes
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) introduced the measure in response to allegations of sexual misconduct against several teachers at Los Angeles campuses including Miramonte Elementary School, where former teacher Mark Berndt has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct.
Padilla told his Senate colleagues that while most teachers in California deserve the public’s trust, "Unfortunately, as in any profession, there are the few who abuse that trust and who sometimes engage in conduct so egregious that it warrants decisive action.''
The measure makes it easier to immediately suspend teachers from classroom duty when accused of certain crimes, and gives the local school board, rather than a panel that includes a teacher, final say on dismissal in cases involving violence, drugs and sexual abuse against students. The bill also allows evidence more than four years old to be considered. The Senate voted 33-4 to send SB 1530 to the Assembly for consideration.
The measure is opposed by the California Teachers Assn. and California Federation of Teachers.Those voting against it were Democratic Sens. Roderick Wright of Inglewood, Ted Lieu of Torrance and Leland Yee and Mark Leno, both from San Francisco.
Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar supported the bill although he said he was disappointed that colleagues did not approve a companion measure he authored that would have expanded the kinds of cases for which the disciplinary process would be streamlined.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), left, has proposed legislation to make it easier to remove teachers accused of sex abuse, drug offenses or violence against students. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press