California teachers could face quicker discipline

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Two bills intended to streamline teacher discipline got a mixed response in the California Legislature on Wednesday.

One of the bills, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), cleared the Senate Education Committee, while the other, from Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), appeared to be stalled. Both were introduced in response to the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles.

Michael Hanson, superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District, was one of several school administrators who testified in favor of the proposals.

“This is not a conversation that is anti-teacher or anti-union,’ Hanson said. ‘It is simply pro-student.”


Opponents, including the California Teachers Assn., say the bills will strip teachers of their right to a fair disciplinary process.

Padilla’s bill (SB1530), the more narrow of the two proposals, would give school boards more authority when firing teachers. It would also eliminate requirements to notify teachers about disciplinary charges before removing them from the classroom on allegations related to sex abuse, drugs or violence. The initial vote in the committee was 8 to 0.

Huff’s bill (SB1059) includes additional proposals, such as stripping abusive teachers of their pensions and health benefits and requiring teachers to be removed from the classroom if officials believe they are under investigation by law enforcement. A final vote total was not available on Wednesday afternoon, but it appeared to fall far short of the number needed for passage.

However, the Assembly version of the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale), was poised to advance. The Assembly Education Committee amended the bill, narrowing its scope, then seven members voted in favor.


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian