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Deasy Requests Changes to Teacher Dismissal Bill

Samantha Oltman | April 24, 2013

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Earlier this week, the LA Weekly honed in on the outsized influence California’s largest teachers union is perceived to have on education policy issues, including recent efforts to speed the removal of sexual predators from the classroom.

“That’s how CTA infamously killed a [2012] law to fire sex-pervert teachers, SB 1530,” LA Weekly writer Matthew Mullins wrote. “A badly watered-down version, AB 375, is alive — because CTA backs it,”

What the LA Weekly didn’t note was that the “badly watered-down” bill moving through the state legislature was amended last week or that LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has proposed several further changes to make sure that districts have a stronger role in the dismissal process and that teachers who review dismissal cases can be removed if necessary.

In an April 19 letter sent to the bill’s sponsor, Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Deasy takes note of the School Board’s recent vote in support of her bill’s intent — and then suggests seveal amendments to strengthen it.

Deasy’s key suggestions include giving districts more discretion on dismissing teachers and loosening eligibility requirements for the people who review dismissal cases on the Commission on Professional Competence. (Read the full letter here.)

In particular, LAUSD wants a bigger role for school districts who employ teachers accused of sexual misconduct. A previous teacher dismissal bill, SB 10, would have given school boards the final decision on dismissals.

“It’s an admirable goal trying to make the dismissal process more efficient,” LAUSD’s director of government relations, Edgar Zazueta, told LA School Report.  “But let’s make sure we’re actually doing that.”

In particular, Zazueta says Deasy wants to be sure the teacher dismissal legislation make it easier to find the teachers who serve on the professional competence review panel.

Current law (and the new bill) have limited, very specific requirements about what kind of teachers can review misconduct cases. “Time and time again the biggest hurdle and delay is finding these people. We feel they could improve that and make it easier,” Zazueta said.

LAUSD isn’t the only one looking to modify the Buchanan proposal.  Other education advocates remain skeptical of the bill even if they still haven’t concluded whether they support it or not — in part because it’s already being amended in Sacramento.

“At face value, some amendments to the bill seem like they’re working on our concerns,” EdVoice CEO Bill Lucia told LA School Report, referring to a series of amendments that were adopted last week.  “But we still have concerns, so I can’t say at all whether we’re leaning toward support.”

Previous posts: Assemblymember Bloom Opposes Teacher Dismissal Bill; Mixed Reactions to New Teacher Dismissal Bill; Teacher Misconduct Proposal Wins Unexpected Support

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