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LAUSD considers new approaches to teacher misconduct allegations

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School board member Tamar Galatzan said she and her colleagues regularly review dismissal cases.
"Right now, at every month’s board meeting we are dismissing employees who should not be in the classroom,"she said. 
About a dozen of those cases are on the agenda for the next meeting. But Galatzan considers the state-mandated process for dealing with those cases too costly, ineffective and long.
After an onslaught of criticism over the district’s handling of the child abuse scandals that started with Miramonte Elementary – where one teacher is accused of engaging children in a grotesque series of activities for more than a decade - Galatzan says it’s time to streamline the process.
That’s why she and fellow board member Nury Martinez are proposing companion resolutions.
Galatzan's proposal targets problems with current state law that limits a school district’s ability to fire an employee who is engaged in unprofessional and immoral behavior.
Galatzan told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that her plan would also lobby state lawmakers to prohibit convicted sexual molesters from receiving teacher pension and retirement benefits.
"That is something that is so grossly unfair," she said. "That we have a handful of employees that the district has tried to fire because of sex abuse of a child and all the teacher has to do is resign sometime during the appeal process and that’s not fair."
That is what happened in the case of former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, charged with 23 counts of lewd acts toward his students.
The second school board resolution would create a uniform procedure for notifying parents and guardians about misconduct cases.
But Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers LA, is unconviced the new resolucitons will serve to protect students anymore than they are under the current system. 

Also on Air Talk today, he said, "Monitoring instruction and making sure that children are safe isn’t just about procedures and it isn’t about maximizing the number of firings."

He said the process works in every other district in the state. So, "if it’s not working in LAUSD, we have to ask ourselves: is it not working in LAUSD because the state got it wrong, or because LAUSD is managing poorly?"

Fletcher points to the Mark Berndt case and one involving another Miramonte teacher as evidence that the school district failed to meet basic standards of daily vigilance. He says a lack of proper oversight led to a situation in which a single principal without an assistant supervised staff and more than 1,400 students, even after police began to investigate Berndt.
The seven-member school board will vote on both measures at its meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 13 at 1 pm. Each of the proposals requires four votes to pass.