Gov. Brown’s veto means it will remain difficult to fire teachers who abuse students

Oct 15, 2013 by

vetoSACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Gov. Jerry Brown apparently isn’t very concerned about rampant sexual abuse of students in the state’s schools.

Last week, he vetoed a bill that would have streamlined the process for terminating teachers accused of sexual misconduct with students, as well as other violent and drug-related offenses. He contends the new teacher dismissal process outlined in Assembly Bill 375 is “too rigid” and could “create new problems,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

“I share the author’s desire to streamline the teacher discipline process,” he wrote in a veto message, “but this bill is an imperfect solution.”

AB 375 is a watered down version of legislation introduced last year by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla, which died in committee due to intense lobbying by the California Teachers Association. The CTA reluctantly supported AB 375 because of its tamer provisions, but likely counted on Brown rejecting the bill.

The problem is that union contracts and state law proscribe a lengthy and expensive process for teachers accused of misdeeds to appeal their terminations, even in extreme cases like sexual assault on a student or selling drugs at school. AB 375 would have limited the amount of time the cases can drag on, and would have allowed school officials to use old evidence to make their case, the Bee reports.

The legislation also would have added murder and attempted murder to the list of offenses that merit an immediate leave of absence, according to the news site.

The Association of California School Administrators had argued the bill would not have gone far enough to fix the system, which ultimately results in far too many dangerous educators reinstated to their jobs. The current process uses a three-person panel – two teachers and an administrative law judge – to decide the fate of wayward educators. AB 375 wouldn’t have changed that aspect.

We suspect that nearly everyone involved in California education viewed AB 375 as an imperfect solution. Unions would prefer to keep the current system that routinely allows its misbehaving members to return to work. School officials would prefer to have final authority over teacher terminations.

Parents would prefer swift and just punishment for educators who abuse or take advantage of students.

Brown apparently believes no solution at all is better than an imperfect solution. But with so many competing interests and differing perspectives, we suspect a perfect solution is nearly impossible.

But maybe that’s the point. Perhaps Brown, who was elected with strong support from the state’s politically powerful teachers unions, is well aware that a perfect solution to this complicated problem is unattainable, and is simply using his veto to buy the unions another year before they have to revisit this ugly issue.

Gov. Brown’s veto means it will remain difficult to fire teachers who abuse students – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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