L.A. Unified officials have sent more than 600 cases of alleged teacher misconduct from the past four years to the state’s teacher credentialing agency for possible investigation.
Superintendent John Deasy ordered the filing or refiling of all cases of teachers accused of misconduct over the past four years in February after KPCC reported that the district broke state law when it waited a year before notifying the state that it had fired Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt. Berndt is charged with committing lewd acts with children.
"The whole project has been completed and all of the files we deemed appropriate to go up there were sent up," Deasy said today.
In all 604 cases were sent dating back to July 1, 2008, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman. According to the commission's most recent numbers recorded May 12, 103 cases were previously reported by the district and 122 are not within its jurisdiction; about 60 percent warrant formal review. The cases include a range of issues from failure to maintain a required credential to "an allegation of abuse of a child."
The agency, which opened 210 cases after receiving notices from school districts statewide in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, has scrambled to deal with a flood of reports from LAUSD and took steps in early March to respond to the increase
Deasy said he didn't have "the slightest idea" how so many cases went unreported. "All I know is that it has been addressed," he said.
L.A. Unified has put into place a process now where two people review reports of misconduct to determine whether the file should be sent up to the state to ensure cases don’t fall through the cracks, Deasy said.
According to state law, a district must report to the commission certain changes in a teacher’s status, such as suspension without pay for more than 10 days or dismissal, within a month of the action.
The commission has the power to investigate such cases and ultimately can suspend or revoke a teacher’s credential for unprofessional conduct.
Deasy also ordered principals at 1,048 schools to review all personnel files for possible unreported misconduct over the last 40 years by May 30; that process is ongoing, Waldman said.
Waldman said staff relations and human resources are working to determine the number of schools that have still not responded and whether the deadline should be extended.
Judith Perez, president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, said she did not know how many principals had been unable to meet the deadline. She said she'd been in touch with many who had had trouble with technical glitches when trying to upload and scan files in to the central office.
"I think that four years is reasonable," Perez said. "I would have liked to have had clarity form the superintendent regarding why he felt it was essential to go back 40 years. In part because there’s a statute of limitations on the prosecution of some cases and so it was not made clear to me and to others the reasoning behind that. Nevertheless the superintendent issued a directive and our members followed through."
This story has been updated.