California school leaders lining up against half-hearted ‘teacher dismissal’ bill

Oct 9, 2013 by

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – School leaders are lining up against a new “teacher dismissal” bill on the grounds it doesn’t improve the current process for firing ineffective or potentially abusive teachers.

They also say it gives too many procedural advantages to the accused educators. Those are major concerns, considering the state is still reeling from last year’s school sex scandal involving two Los Angeles teachers and some 40 students.

Of course, those are the very reasons the state’s powerful teachers union has endorsed the bill, which is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature.

Concerned school officials are using this last-minute opportunity to try to persuade the governor to kill the bill.

California School Boards Association President Cindy Marks outlined those arguments in a recent op-ed for the Sacramento Bee.

In her op-ed, Marks calls AB 375 “a deeply flawed piece of legislation” that “attempts to shorten the dismissal hearing by placing restrictions on a school district’s ability to prove its case.”

“School attorneys could depose just four witnesses, in addition to the accused teacher,” Marks notes. “That means the district must use evidence gathered from just four witnesses or victims to help prepare its case to prove grounds for dismissal.

“Furthermore, school districts would be unable to freely amend charges as new evidence is uncovered through testimony. Restricting evidence puts defense attorneys and accused teachers in a strong position to extract larger settlements. And school districts will be forced to pay it.”

Marks’ biggest concern, however, is the bill’s failure to fix the flaws in the current teacher dismissal process.

Currently, “school boards do not have final authority to dismiss a teacher. A panel made up of two teachers and an administrative law judge makes the final decision. AB 375 leaves the authority and composition of the panel intact,” Marks notes.

“School boards are elected by their communities and held accountable for everything that takes place in school, and rightly so. Yet, we lack the authority to dismiss a teacher who is failing our students or mistreating them. AB 375 missed an opportunity to align accountability with authority and give school boards the option to make the final decision when we must dismiss a teacher.”

Adds Marks: “I’m unaware of any school board or superintendent who has taken a position in support of (this) bill. It appears no one who has investigated and removed a teacher believes AB 375 is good for schools.”

California school leaders lining up against half-hearted ‘teacher dismissal’ bill – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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