CSBA’s “New Laws for California Schools” series highlights new laws signed in 2019 affecting K-12 education. New laws are effective Jan. 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted. The What’s New for 2020 report on all new laws affecting education is available at www.csba.org/whatsnewfor2020.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Assembly Bill 1353 (Wicks, D-Oakland) will shorten the maximum probationary period for classified school district employees from the current maximum period (not exceeding one year) to a period not exceeding six months, or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer.
Key points about AB 1353:
AB 1353 does not apply to school districts using a merit-based system for classified employee hiring. Merit system school districts already utilize a six-month probationary period and have the necessary processes and infrastructure to do so.
AB 1353 does not require school districts to move to a merit system or to adopt hiring processes mirroring a merit system. However, the shortened probationary timeline is likely to create challenges, some of which school districts can potentially offset by more closely evaluating candidates during the hiring process.
Collective bargaining agreements operative before Jan. 1, 2020, are honored. For school districts with a current CBA operative before Jan. 1, the statutory move to a six-month probationary period commences upon expiration of that agreement.
In preparation, school districts should consult with their human resources directors to review their evaluation process and make adjustments to comply and incorporate the shorter evaluation time period. Additionally, classified employment policies and forms should be reviewed and revised where appropriate to reflect this new law.
The California School Personnel Commissioners Association, which houses resources for merit system districts, lists 93 local educational agencies (80 school districts and 13 county offices of education) that utilize a merit system. These districts have voluntarily adopted the system and continually budget for the infrastructure needed to implement it (i.e. creation of eligibility lists for hiring purposes and testing and evaluation procedures), whereas non-merit districts typically do not budget for such infrastructure.
Supporters of the bill submitted that it would create consistency and avoid confusion in hiring timelines by aligning merit districts and non-merit districts to the same six-month probationary period. However, the bill fails to recognize that non-merit school districts do not currently possess the necessary resources to conduct the hiring and evaluation of classified employees within a narrow six-month window.
The bill was designated “nonfiscal,” and as such does not create a reimbursable mandate. Therefore, AB 1353 does not provide a funding resource for school districts to develop the infrastructure needed to successfully carry out a six-month probationary period.
AB 1353 was opposed by CSBA, as shortening the probationary period (by half, in this case) may prevent an LEA from thoroughly and appropriately vetting the suitability of a new hire and ties the hands of school administrators in quickly removing those who demonstrate questionable behavior with students.
(UPDATE 2/14/20): There has been some discussion regarding whether AB 1353 applies to county offices of education. While the bill states that it “shall apply only to school districts not incorporating the merit system,” the bill amended Education Code section 45113, which does apply to county offices of education by operation of Education Code section 1311. Section 1311 states in relevant part that “[e]ach person employed by a county superintendent of schools in a position not requiring certification qualifications and whose salary is paid from the county school service fund shall be employed in accordance with the provisions of . . . Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 45100) . . .”
Therefore, CSBA believes that AB 1353 does apply to county offices of education. Please contact your district or county office of education’s legal counsel for legal questions related to this information.
A coalition including the Association of California School Administrators, California Association of School Business Officials, the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities and others also opposed the measure. AB 1353 was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 7 after passing the Legislature on Sept. 9. The bill was heard in the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee on April 24 and the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on June 19, but was not heard in Education Committees in either house before being passed.
Education Code section(s) amended: 45113
CSBA sample policies impacted: BP 4216 – Probationary/Permanent Status