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Assemblymember Bloom Opposes Teacher Dismissal Bill

Samantha Oltman | April 18, 2013

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Earlier this month, LA School Report interviewed education players in California about AB 375, sponsored by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), which would streamline the dismissal process for teachers accused of sexual abuse and other forms of misconduct.proposal.

EdVoice, LAUSD, and others generally said they were happy something was being done to improve the current teacher dismissal process. But they also expressed concerns that the Buchanan bill didn’t have enough teeth to fix a system that has failed repeatedly to effectively dismiss teachers.

Since then, concerns have continued to surface — along with a handful of praise. Most recently, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) has come out against the proposal. And written commentary from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in the works, according to his office.

On April 1, Gloria Romero, the head of California’s Democrats for Education Reform, wrote a harsh critique of the bill the O.C. Register, claiming it will make things worse by “severely limiting pretrial evidence discovery, creating an entirely new hearing process for suspended teachers and disallowing consideration by the panel of new information.”

On April 7, the LA Times published an editorial in support of the proposal, observing that it “makes more sense” than “several reform-oriented bills [that] went overboard.”

But an April 11 Daily News editorial (“Bill makes it (a tiny bit) easier to fire abusive teachers,”) described the Buchanan proposal as a “watered-down” version of the previous legislation that makes only “small changes around the edges, but is hardly revolutionary.”

Specifically, “the bill requires appeals be wrapped up in seven months, which hardly seems speedy. And it retains an appeals board rather than leaving it up to district officials,” according to the Daily News.

Despite all the shortcomings it finds with AB 375, the Daily News wrote, “this bill should pass because it would improve the system we’ve got now – a little. The original [Padilla] bill would have served the public better, but because of the inordinate power of one organization, it didn’t have a chance.”

Earlier this week, Chris Wheat, a spokesperson for Assemblymember Bloom, told LA School Report that Bloom would not vote for the bill in its current form.

Bloom won a November 2012 contest against incumbent Betsy Butler in which he highlighted Butler’s refusal to support a previous teacher dismissal bill that was championed by Senator Alex Padilla.

“If we get the bill as written on the floor, we would not be able to support it,” Bloom spokesperson Wheat said.

Bloom specifically criticizes how the bill includes two teachers on a three-person commission that has the final say in whether a teacher is dismissed or not.

The LA Times raised the same issue, noting that “Buchanan’s bill would have better balanced the makeup of the review panel, by placing an administrator on it, or a parent.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to write a letter responding to AB 375, according to press secretary Vicki Curry, but she wasn’t able to disclose what kind of response it will be.

LA School Report has also reached out to lawyers representing victims affected by the Miramonte sexual abuse case to hear what they think about the bill. We’ll update you when we hear back.

On Tuesday, the LAUSD School Board voted to support the new teacher dismissal bill that’s making its way through the statehouse in Sacramento as well.

Previous posts: Mixed Reactions to New Teacher Dismissal Bill; Teacher Misconduct Proposal Wins Unexpected Support; More Failing Teachers Pushed Out Under Deasy

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