Miramonte Elementary students and parents protest outside their school.
The L.A. Unified Board of Education unanimously passed two resolutions today that seek to change the district's employee discipline procedures, including how and when parents are notified of accusations against a teacher, after a recent spate of reported misconduct cases.
The first resolution, authored by board member Tamar Galatzan and co-sponsored by board member Nury Martinez and board president Monica Garcia, calls on legislators to make changes to the state's Education Code to speed up credentialed employee dismissals. Superintendent John Deasy has 30 days to return to the board with a plan of action on how to pursue such changes as a district priority.
Among other things, the resolution asks for legislators to change the law to allow evidence to be introduced from more than four years prior to the district's filing for a teacher's dismissal. A clause within teachers' contracts requires unproven allegations of misconduct and reprimands that didn't result in discipline be removed from active personnel files after four years.
California State Capitol in Sacramento
California state Senate and Assembly Republicans unveiled legislation today to expedite the dismissal of educators who engage in criminal behavior in response to the flurry of reported sex-abuse cases in L.A. Unified schools over the last months.
The proposed reforms, which will be introduced as legislation this week, are based on a "Top Ten" recommended reforms list produced by L.A. Unified officials and a letter from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, according to a release.
The legislators specifically refer to the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, arrested and charged with 23 lewd acts upon a child, and subsequent reports on sex-abuse throughout the district, as the impetus for their proposals to change the state Education Code.
"Public schools are supposed to be havens for safe learning, not a proving ground for sexual predators," said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, of Diamond Bar, in a statement. "The recent arrest of two Miramonte Elementary teachers for lewd acts against their students shows that we must change the law to protect our kids. That’s why Republicans are standing with Mayor Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Unified to enact reforms to empower local districts and ensure that a Miramonte-like tragedy never happens again."