State Sen. Lou Correa Introduces Bill (SB) 843 -Teachers
Currently, an educator that has been fired in California may appeal to a state panel of an administrative law judge and two educators.
The bill also would make the dismissal process less costly. Past attempts at changes to these rules have failed from opposition from Teachers Unions.
Sen. Correa’s bill would allow just an administrative law judge to review the most serious cases. The proposal make the due-process rights of the teacher more aligned with those of other state employees.The bill also attempts to lessen the review process for dismissals to only 12 months, while some cases can be longer.
The current panel system would remain in force for less serious infractions, but teachers who serve on the panel would only be required to have three years of teaching experience rather than five years currently required.
School Districts could offer testimony or evidence that is more than four years old in support of the credibility of accusations against a educator.
The Unions are concerned that these provisions may end up resulting in the presentation of irrelevant or out-of-date information.
The California School Boards Assn. supports Sen. Correa’s proposal.
Key provisions include:
• Allegations of serious and egregious conduct such as child abuse, sexual abuse, and other serious and violent felonies, as well as severe misconduct such as immoral conduct and dishonesty, will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ). This change enables the most serious charges to be heard only by a judge who is more experienced in dealing with facts and the law of serious misconduct cases, instead of a panel that includes appointed educators and administrators.
• Adds being criminally charged with a violent or serious felony to the list of conduct that a school district may place a certificated employee on mandatory leave. This increases the district’s ability to remove individuals accused of serious misconduct from the classroom.
• Establishes that the matter shall be submitted for decision within 12 months of the employee’s demand for hearing, unless the time period is extended by the ALJ for good cause. This new provision addresses the issue of hearings taking up to 2 years to complete.
• Eliminates the prohibition on the testimony or introduction of evidence on matters more than four years old for charges of serious and egregious conduct. Permits the testimony and introduction of evidence for all charges regardless of when the matter occurred for the purposes of rebuttal, the impeachment of witnesses, and to show notice was given. This provision will assist districts in proving the charges that may be rooted in prior misconduct more than four years old, as well as to keep witnesses from violating their sworn oath to tell the truth.
• Expands the eligibility to serve on the Commission on Professional Competence (CPC) by reducing from five to three years the teaching experience necessary to serve on the panel. The potential pool of panel members is increased by redefining serving in the same “discipline” as the employee charged, to requiring serving in the same level (either elementary or secondary) as the charged employee. This will assist both sides in finding eligible panel members for charges, such as unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance, which will be subject to peer review.
SB 843 is currently in the Senate Education Committee awaiting a hearing.