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Gov. Brown’s Veto Leaves Teacher Dismissal in Limbo*

Hillel Aron | October 11, 2013

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Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of AB 375, a bill that would have amended California’s teacher dismissal process, doesn’t mean the effort is dead.

“The governor still wants to do something,” LA Unified’s chief lobbyist, Edgar Zazueta, told LA School Report. “I do see there will be one, if not several, efforts to do this next year. Hopefully we’re able to find somewhere in the middle, where more stakeholders can embrace final product.”

Zazueta added that Brown “always wants to make sure that all the stakeholders are on board. With 375, it was unbalanced. None of the folks who do dismissals were part of process.”

Gloria Romero, who just left California Democrats for Education Reform to start her own organization, the Foundation for Parent Empowerment, also sees a pathway forward, even if it remains uncertain who’s leading the effort.

“The stars are aligned,” she said. “There will be a very bright public spotlight on this. The legislature will have to act. The question is, who carries it this time?”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, the East Bay Democrat who sponsored the measure, has not decided whether she will go forward with a reconfigured approach or defer to someone else on the issue. One possibility is State Senator Alex Padilla, who authored a bill, SB 10, that would have made it easier to fire teachers accused of harming a student.

That bill died in committee after an intense lobbying blitz from the California Teachers Association.

This year, Padilla declined to take the lead on the new version of the bill – perhaps because he’s running for California Secretary of State and doesn’t want to antagonize the teachers unions. Buchanan’s bill was supported by teacher unions but widely attacked reform groups and newspaper editorial boards statewide.

“I still strongly believe that the discipline appeal process is broken,” Buchanan said in an email. “It takes too long and costs too much money. However, I agree that the path forward is uncertain.”

The question then, is there a compromise to made?

Romero also said that if the legislature doesn’t act, there could be a move by outside groups to write a ballot initiative. “There’ve been discussions, believe me, about which way to go forward,” she said.

A ballot initiative could pressure the legislature into acting. But the real pressure might come from Vergara v. California, the lawsuit filed by Students Matter aimed at tearing up many of the laws that govern the teacher dismissal process. That trial is set to being on January 27 – and could have an enormous impact on how teachers in California are fired.

Students Matter spokesperson Danielle Kelton said that Brown’s veto “definitely highlights the failure of the legislature to address the problem.”

*This update includes a comment from Buchanan. An early version of the post mistakenly identified the Vergara plaintiffs as Students First.

Previous posts: John Deasy on AB 375 Veto: ‘Wise Decision’BREAKING NEWS: Brown Vetoes Weak Teacher Dismissal BillBrown Facing Pressure to Veto ‘Flawed’ Teacher Dismissal BillUnions Ask Court to Dismiss ‘Bad Teacher’ Suit

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