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Three misconduct bills to be discussed in Sacramento

Protestors march near Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
Protestors march near Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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.

There is a similar bill, AB2028, sponsored by Republican state Assemblymen Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley. Lockhart said it is a replica of the other Senate bill. 

The third bill, SB1530, is sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, and is broader than the Huff bill. It would 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 remove a teacher from the classroom on accusations of sex abuse, drugs or violence more immediate and not subject to the notification requirements currently in place.

L.A. Unified board member Nury Martinez and Superintendent John Deasy will testify in support of the Padilla bill at the hearing Wednesday, according to a district release. Lockhart said the superintendent will also speak in support of the Republican bills. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent a letter of support for AB2028.

The California Teachers Assn. has come out strongly against all three bills and written letters opposing them.

According to a statement on its website the bills are an attack on due process for teachers:

"SB 1059, AB 2028, and SB 1530 do not address the cascading failures of leadership in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The bills do not increase district administrators’ accountability to ensure that learning environments are safe for our students."

Watch the state Senate committee hearing online here and listen to the state Assembly committee hearing here.

For reference, here's a link back to a primer on the dismissal process in California.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).