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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LAUSD Supt.: California 'long overdue' for revamp of teacher dismissal policy

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California is "long overdue" for a revamp of the education policies that govern teacher dismissal that would make it easier to fire those accused of heinous acts against children, said L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy today.

On Wednesday, Deasy will be in Sacramento testifying in support of SB 1530, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima.

The bill seeks to give school boards more authority in firing teachers, making the decision of the Commission on Professional Competence advisory. It would also allow a district to expeditiously remove a teacher from the classroom on accusations of sex abuse, drugs or violence without having to follow the weeks of notification requirements currently in place.

The California Teachers Assn. has come out strongly against the bill and said it attacks teachers' due process rights and does not address the "failures of leadership" at L.A. Unified.

Deasy disagreed with their assessment and said the current method by which teachers are dismissed "doesn't even pass a reasonable smell test for the best standards of practice when dealing with performance."

"Due process is completely covered," he said. "The question I would have is how much due process do child molesters need?"

Since 2003 through March 2011, there have been 667 statewide cases that have been sent to the Office of Administrative Hearings, and 129 of those were actually heard, Deasy said. Out of those 129 cases, 82 resulted in dismissal, he said.

According to Deasy, 32 of the cases that resulted in dismissal involved allegations of sexual or immoral conduct. In 47 of those cases the teacher was ultimately not terminated and ended up returning to service. Nearly half of those cases, or 24, involved allegations of sexual or immoral conduct. And the main reasons the teachers were ultimately not dismissed included doubts about a student's story, belief the conduct was not intended to be sexual or disagreements that the conduct warranted dismissal, Deasy said.

"This isn't just an issue for LAUSD, this is the entire state," Deasy said. "...In other words, there's a greater number of cases involving sexual or immoral conduct where teachers were put back in the classroom than were dismissed."

Deasy said he planned to ask several questions while testifying in Sacramento Wednesday.

"In the state of California the school board can hire, but it is not allowed to fire?" Deasy said. "That doesn't seem to make sense to me on these cases...Those are the questions I will be asking."

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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