By Dennis Meyers, Assistant Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Granted, the process required to dismiss a teacher is long, cumbersome, and costly. But Assembly Bill 375, now on the governor’s desk, is not balanced reform. It sets time limits for commencing and completing the process for dismissing a teacher, while also adding procedural steps that defense counsel could use to delay.
Some of the biggest problems with the bill are the limits it places on depositions and amendment of charges. In the event of an act of misconduct, districts and county offices of education could only depose five witnesses, even when there are multiple witnesses or victims. The limit on witnesses also limits the ability of the local education agency (LEA) to gather and use all available evidence to prove its case.
We believe LEAs may be forced to re-file the charges, and possibly ask children to re-live abuse in testimony, settle, or return the teacher to the classroom. All three outcomes are bad for schools. With regard to settlements, teachers who have not performed or committed an act of misconduct should not be paid to leave. We also worry they could move onto work in another LEA.
More background on the issue and a sample letter asking Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the bill is available here.