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Villaraigosa Expresses Concerns About Teacher Dismissal Bill

Samantha Oltman | April 25, 2013

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has added his voice to a group of education leaders who are reluctant to support the current union-supported teacher dismissal bill being considered in Sacramento unless it’s amended to address key issues.

In an April 19 letter sent to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Villaraigosa praises Buchanan for her “willingness to tackle this difficult and sensitive issue.” But he says he’s withholding support for the bill, known as AB 375, unless she addresses “areas of concern” he has — many of which echo those that have been expressed by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, education advocacy group EdVoice, and former State Senator Gloria Romero.

Both the Mayor and LAUSD want Buchanan to amend the rules to make it easier to find teachers to serve on the three-person Commission on Professional Competence that has the final say on whether teachers are fired. (Read about LAUSD’s position on the teacher dismissal bill here.)

Villaraigosa also agrees with EdVoice CEO Bill Lucia on the bill’s revised timelines; current law requires dismissal hearings to begin within 60 days, but AB 375 would actually extend that time to six months. They both think the longer timeline delays the process unnecessarily.

Last but not least, the Mayor takes issue with the bill’s rules on pretrial evidence, writing, “the process for allowing the use of relevant information must be less onerous.” Education advocate Gloria Romero, who is head of California Democrats for Education Reform, also warned that the bill could “severely limit pretrial evidence discovery.”

Read the full Villaraigosa letter here.

Villaraigosa’s hesitations about AB 375 add to the growing sense that this teacher dismissal bill isn’t as strong as it should be, but that policy makers and advocates in Los Angeles and across California are holding out hope that the bill will be amended enough to make effective changes to the teacher dismissal process.

What remains unknown is how Buchanan and the bill’s current supporters, including the California Teachers Association, will respond to these concerns.

Previous posts: Deasy Requests Changes to Teacher Dismissal Bill; Mixed Reactions to New Teacher Dismissal Bill; Assemblymember Bloom Opposes Teacher Dismissal Bill

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