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

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

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

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.


Three misconduct bills to be discussed in Sacramento

Protestors march near Miramonte Elementa

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Protestors march near Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

Three bills that deal with teacher misconduct will be discussed by the California Legislature's Senate and Assembly education committees Wednesday.

SB1059, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, would remove pensions and health benefits from teachers convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and prevent disciplinary records from being removed from personnel files. It would also require teachers be removed from the classroom if officials believe they are under investigation.

The bill matches 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.


Judge refuses to reduce Miramonte Elementary teacher Berndt's bail from $23 million; more photos surface

Mark Berndt

L.A. Sheriff's Department

Mark Berndt

Accused Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, who allegedly took photos of blindfolded and gagged students with semen-tainted cookies or spoons held to their mouths, was back before a judge Wednesday as the court tried to decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed, but was sent back to jail after a request to reduce his bail from $23 million to $1 million was rejected.

Berndt, 61, was arrested Jan. 30 and charged with 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child. The children were between 7 and 10 years old; the alleged crimes took place between 2005 and 2011.

This time, Berndt showed up in court clean-shaven and with his hair cut short, grooming he says he was denied for his first court appearance. But that was the only thing that went his way at the hearing.


Few details emerge on 85 Miramonte Elementary teachers removed from campus

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Miramonte Elementary students and parents protest outside their school.

Superintendent John Deasy spoke with KPCC earlier today and provided few details on the 85 Miramonte Elementary School teachers removed from their campus nearly two months ago, after two former teachers were accused of inappropriate conduct with students.

"We are nearing the end of a police investigation and an administrative investigation is underway so that when faculty are no longer part of an investigation and are cleared, they will return to the school," Deasy said. "It is their right to return to the school."

The entire school staff was removed over two pupil free days in early February and placed at the unopened Augustus Hawkins High School. Nearly two months later the district has declined to provide details on their day-to-day activities or specifics on when they will return to teaching classes. The removal of an entire school staff is unprecedented, and the teacher's union spoke strongly against the action.


LA Unified board approves measures on employee discipline procedures

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

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.