Senate OKs bill easing firings for teacher abuse

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The state Senate has passed a bill making it easier to fire teachers accused of sex abuse, child abuse or serious drug crimes.

Senators unanimously passed AB215 on a 33-0 vote Monday. The bill by Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo creates a separate hearing process for teachers who are charged with egregious misconduct. It also requires school districts to hold a hearing within six months if a teacher appeals.

The bill was the result of a compromise after previous legislative efforts to speed up the disciplinary process failed.

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AB215 was presented by Sen. Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat who sought changes after longtime Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest for lewd acts including spoon-feeding students his semen.

The bill now moves to the Assembly.

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