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Deasy wants teachers' contracts changed over misconduct records [Updated]

February 29, 2012 |  1:23 pm

LauSD Superintendent John Deasy wants teacher contract changed
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy ordered his negotiating team Wednesday to press the teachers union to eliminate a provision of the contract that allows information about alleged but unproven teacher misconduct to be removed after four years.

Deasy said the clause has hampered district efforts to identify potential problem teachers through a top-to-bottom review of district records — both centrally and at schools.

The superintendent's announcement comes the day after The Times revealed the little-known contract provision.

The issue emerged in the wake of the arrest of former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt. He has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct, with authorities alleging that he spoon-fed his semen to blindfolded students as part of what he called a “tasting game.”

L.A. Unified could find no allegations of past misconduct in Berndt’s file, although former students, parents and investigators confirmed that unrelated allegations had been made in the past.

The automatic purging of records could substantially account for Berndt’s unblemished personnel file, district officials have said.

“In the interests of affording greater protections to our students, I have instructed the [district] negotiating team to enter into discussions immediately with the teachers’ union to change or eliminate this practice,” Deasy said in a statement Wednesday.

The teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, had no immediate comment. The union and the school system are in negotiations over a new employment contract.

[Updated at 2 p.m.: United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher reacted to Deasy’s announcement. “UTLA is always open to discussions at the negotiating table and, as teachers, we always are open to discuss ways to assure children are safe."]

The clause is not unique to the Los Angeles Unified School District, but many school systems do not have such rules, including those in New York, Long Beach and San Diego.  Deasy, who took over the top job in L.A. Unified about a year ago, said he is not aware of such a provision in any district that he has previously led.


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-- Howard Blume

Photo: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy wants teachers' contracts changed over misconduct records. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times