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Bill to speed up teacher dismissals is revived

A state senator has reintroduced legislation intended to speed the dismissal of teachers for gross misconduct.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) acted in the wake of a state audit concluding that current laws added excessive cost and time to the firing process.

“The state auditor confirms that the dismissal process established in state law is inconsistent, too lengthy, too costly and delays the timely resolution of child-abuse cases,” Padilla said in a statement. “I believe strongly that when there are allegations of abuse, timely resolution is important to all parties, particularly children and their parents.”

The new legislation, SB 10, will closely resemble an unsuccessful bill advanced last year by Padilla, said his spokesman John D. Mann on Monday. The new bill’s text was not yet posted Monday afternoon, but the earlier bill shifted firing authority from an independent state panel to the school district in which a teacher is employed. Teachers still could get an outside review of their cases before an administrative law judge, but the judge’s decision would not be binding.

The bill defined gross misconduct as sex, drug and child abuse offenses.

Last year, Padilla’s bill was opposed by labor groups including the California Teachers Assn. and United Teachers Los Angeles. The unions asserted that the bill would have undermined appropriate due-process rights for teachers.

The state audit, released last week, also called for the Legislature to establish a tracking system for non-teaching employees who work in schools. Without it, non-teachers fired for misconduct could successfully apply to other school systems for jobs, auditors noted.

The state already maintains a system for verifying that a teacher is in good standing, but until recently, L.A. Unified failed to file reports on teachers in a timely manner.

Both the audit and the legislation came in the wake of the arrest of a veteran Miramonte Elementary School teacher for lewd conduct earlier this year.

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-- Howard Blume

 
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