Bid to reform teacher firing process thwarted

June 29, 2012 - By Joseph Perkins

June 29, 2012

By Joseph Perkins

After passage in the state Senate by a 33-4 bipartisan majority, the Assembly Education Committee bowed this week to the state’s all-too-powerful teachers unions, rejecting a bill authored by Padilla, D-Van Nuys, that would have expedited the dismissal process for teachers accused of sex, violence or drug offenses involving children.

The measure, SB 1530, cleared the Senate by a 33-4 bipartisan majority (a rarity inSacramento). However, intense lobbying by the California Teachers Association and United Teachers Los Angeles resulted in Padilla’s bill falling one vote shy of approval by the Assembly Ed Committee, killing the much-needed reform for this year, if not forever.

Padilla crafted his bill in the wake of several scandalous incidents this past school year in which students were sexually abused by teachers. Perhaps the most notorious case involved Mark Berndt, a third-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, who was accused of 23 lewd acts against children.

After being fired by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Berndt filed an appeal. While it is likely the school district ultimately would have prevailed, it would have done so only after expending considerable time and money. So the school district actually paid the accused child molester $40,000 to drop his appeal.

SB 1350 would have modified the broken-down process for firing teachers, which in one notable L.A. Unified case took eight years and nearly $2 million before the district was able to rid itself of Matthew Kim, a teacher accused of sexual misconduct.

Among other provisions, the bill would have empowered school districts to make decisions on firing teachers rather than the current process, which leaves that up to a three-member appeals panel (which includes an administrative law judge and representatives chosen by the teacher and the district).

It also would have allowed school districts to place teachers on unpaid suspension if they are suspected of serious misconduct, and would have eliminated the 45-day notice to teachers facing disciplinary action, during which time the teacher my very well remain in the classroom.

Union opposition

The teachers unions vigorously opposed SB 1350, teacher sex-abuse scandals or not, because the legislation “solves nothing, places teachers at unfair risk, and diverts attention from the real accountability issues at LAUSD,” said UTLA President Warren Fletcher, in a statement.

Sen. Padilla disagreed, in a statement of his own yesterday, explaining that the measure does not target any and every teacher facing disciplinary action, but only those suspected of the most “egregious” misconduct. “SB 1530 was narrowly crafted,” he said, “to focus only on cases in which school employees are accused of sex, violence, or drug use with children.”

Assembly Education Committee Chair Julia Brownley sided with Padilla, the only Democrat on her committee to vote for SB 1350. Contrary to Fletcher’s insinuation, she said she was satisfied the measure afforded due process to teachers accused of misconduct.

In fact, not only would teachers accused of misconduct still be able to present their defense to an administrative judge (sans representatives for the teacher and the school district), they also would be allowed to appeal an adverse ruling in Superior Court.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who faced by one teacher scandal after another this past school year, said SB 1530 is a desperately-needed reform and that Democratic members of the Assembly’s Ed Committee did a disservice to the state’s public school children by failing to pass the measure.

“We’ve made it very clear in California,” he said, “that we care about teachers’ rights and we’ll throw students’ rights under the bus.”

Tags: , , ,

Comments(11)
  1. Ted Steele, The Decider says:

    Yes— good—- let’s find faster ways to fire the hard working teachers who babysit your brat kids and answer to your whining childcentric whims…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. phil says:

    Can you post who in on the Assembly Education Committee to let people know who is voting to stop this?

  3. phil says:

    Here’s the breakdown on the vote:

    Voting for the teacher-opposed measure were Assembly Education Chair Julia Brownley
    (D-Santa Monica), Vice Chair Chris Norby (R-Fullerton), and Assembly Members Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Dr. Linda Halderman (R-Fresno), and Don Wagner (R-Irvine).

    Voting against the bill were Assembly Members Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Joan
    Buchanan (D-Alamo). Abstaining were Assembly Members Betsy Butler (D-El Segundo), Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto), Mike Eng (D-Alhambra) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara)

    How in the world do 4 people “abstain” from voting when they are on a committee? Come on people…if you’re in their districts and the represent you call them on their bull!

  4. Ventura Capitalist says:

    Let’s all get behind those tax increases in November. We need all the resources we can get to support one of California’s chief sources of pride: The CTA democrat protection racket for child molesting pervert teachers.

  5. Queeg says:

    Your greatest fear….being an urban serf…the health bill with 21 fees/taxes could hurt a bit….your masters in D.C. will tell you what bowling alley fo report for IRS interrogation about your accumulation of assets..sweet…followed by issuance of a public health number.

    Government workers, congress, unions, corporate fat cats, snitches and commissar block captains exempted!

    You can thank Rhino Roberts….now who do you trust…..Mitty the Flipper….father of Romneycare….you have no hope!

  6. Uylsses Uhaul says:

    The gloom and doom messenger…yawn….our State has more poor and uneducated than all other states….you state rights lovers know Governor Brown is working on a long range plan to uplift the hurting citizens.

  7. Ted Steele, The Decider says:

    Duncey— you know zip about me little fella! You have been defeated out here time and again like you were at the OCR till they gave you the boot!

    I love ya !!

  8. CalWatchdog says:

    We’re deleting some comments here because we’re just not going to publish nonsense. Stop wasting our time. — John Seiler

  9. Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

    The one wasting everyones time is Teddy Steal/Uhaul/Queeg. Please delete the sock puppet accounts.

  10. Ted Steele, The Decider says:

    I have zero problem suspending teachers convicted of bad conduct—-no problem at all !!

  11. Enzo says:

    I will not be support Brown’s push on the proposition for $ to schools. With the CTA protecting themselves first before children they don’t deserve another penny from the taxpayer. This union has completely turned or this pro-union voter from anything to do with LA City schools that asks for a dime more in funding.

Archive By Categories
  • Budget and Finance
  • Infrastructure
  • Inside Government
  • Politics and Elections
  • Regulations
  • Rights and Liberties
  • Steven Greenhut
  • Waste, Fraud and Abuse