Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children. His case has led to multiple bills introduced by the state legislators to expedite the teacher dismissal process.
Another bill that aims to make it easier to dismiss teachers passed out of the California Assembly Education Committee this afternoon with amendments that significantly narrow and strip away the bulk of its reforms.
AB2028, sponsored by Republican state Assemblymen Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley, would eliminate the four-year limitation on introducing evidence to be used in proceedings and allow the dismissal process to begin during the summer.
The bill as originally proposed matched resolutions on employee dismissal approved by the L.A. Unified school board in March, said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the Office of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway. The board approved the resolutions, which call on legislators to make changes to the education code, after a spate of reported sexual misconduct cases earlier this year.
"Obviously we put out legislation that mirrored exactly what L.A. Unified wanted, that’s certainly where we’d want to go, but the Assemblyman [Knight] felt that to continue the dialogue and enact at least some change" the amendments were necessary.
"This is just the first of many steps that must be taken to enact these much-needed reforms and prevent a Miramonte-like tragedy from ever happening again," said Knight in a statement.
The bill now moves on to the appropriations committee.
Another bill, SB1059, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, currently remains stuck in committee; it has not been amended. The California Teachers Assn. has strongly opposed both bills.
SB1530, however, passed out of the state Senate Education Committee today. Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima worked with the CTA and committee members to amend the bill; even so, a CTA official spoke against the measure at today's hearing.
CTA spokesman Mike Myslinski declined to comment.