Buchanan Bill to Streamline Teacher Dismissals Gains Unanimous Support from Senate Education

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Joan Buchanan

(Sacramento, CA)— Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, announced that AB 215, a bill to streamline the teacher discipline and dismissal appeal process, received unanimous bipartisan support from the Senate Education Committee yesterday. Chair of Senate Education Committee, Senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada/Flintridge), Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) asked to be added as co-authors.

“After three years and much work by both house of the Legislature, I am pleased to have earned the support of my colleagues and key constituents on this important legislation.” Buchanan said.  “The public wants reform. It should not take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve dismissal appeals. We want money spent in the classroom, not the courtroom. We will do all we can to move this important legislation to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible.”

AB 215 provides a fair and efficient process for resolving dismissal appeals.  It expedites and prioritizes cases of egregious misconduct, those involving sexual abuse, child abuse and certain drug offenses, and it streamlines all other dismissal appeals.  It will reduce the time to resolve these cases from years to months, saving districts thousands of dollars.

To read AB 215, click here

Here is the legislative digest

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 215, as amended, Chesbro Buchanan. Solid waste recycling. School employees: dismissal or suspension: hearings.

Existing law prohibits a permanent school employee from being dismissed, except for one or more of certain enumerated causes, including immoral or unprofessional conduct.

This bill would also include egregious misconduct, as defined, as a basis for dismissal.

Existing law requires the governing board of a school district to give notice to a permanent employee of its intention to dismiss or suspend the employee, together with a written statement of charges, at the expiration of 30 days from the date of service of the notice, unless the employee demands a hearing.

This bill would additionally apply the above to egregious misconduct. The bill would authorize a governing board of a school district, if the board has given the above notice, based on written charges, to amend the charges less than 90 days before the hearing on the charges only upon a showing of good cause. The bill would authorize the employee to be given a meaningful opportunity to respond to the amended charges. The bill would authorize proceedings, based solely on charges of egregious misconduct, to be initiated via an alternative process, which this bill would establish, as provided.

Existing law prohibits the governing board of a school district from giving notice of dismissal or suspension of a permanent employee between May 15 and September 15 of any year.

This bill would authorize any notice of dismissal or suspension to be given at any time of year, as provided. The bill would require a notice of dismissal or suspension given outside of the instructional year of the schoolsite where the employee is physically employed to be in writing and served personally upon the employee. The bill would also revise various procedures for providing notice of dismissal or suspension and would impose various requirements for the filing of a demand for a hearing and the conduct of hearings by the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Existing law authorizes the governing board of a school district to immediately suspend an employee and give him or her notice of dismissal upon filing of written charges relating to immoral conduct, conviction of a felony, or an crime involving moral turpitude, with incompetency due to mental disability, with willful refusal to perform regular assignments without reasonable cause, as provided.

This bill would authorize an employee who has been placed on suspension pursuant to the above provisions to serve and file with the Office of Administrative Hearings a motion for immediate reversal of suspension, as provided.

Existing law provides that upon being charged, as specified, with certain sex or controlled substance offenses, a certificated employee be placed on either a compulsory leave of absence or an optional leave of absence for certain enumerated violations.

This bill would revise the definitions of “charged with a mandatory leave of absence offense” and “charged with an optional leave of absence offense” for purposes of those provisions governing when a certificated employee is required to be placed on either a compulsory leave of absence or an optional leave of absence. Because these revisions would increase the number of employees subject to immediate placement on compulsory leave of absence, thereby increasing the duties of school districts, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Existing law requires in a dismissal or suspension proceeding against a permanent employee, if a hearing is requested by the employee, that the hearing be commenced within 60 days from the date of the employee’s demand for a hearing.

This bill would require that the hearing be commenced within 6 months from the date of the employee’s demand for a hearing, and be completed by a closing of the record within 7 months of the date of the employee’s demand for a hearing. The bill would revise various procedures for the conduct of those hearings, as prescribed, including the authority to waive the conductibility of the hearing by a Commission on Professional Competence and instead have the hearing conducted by a single administrative law judge. The bill would require that, in a dismissal or suspension proceeding carried out under the above provisions, the parties make specified disclosures in lieu of certain written discovery, as prescribed, and would authorize the parties to obtain discovery by oral deposition. The bill would require the governing board of the school district and the state to share equally the expenses of the hearing if the Commission on Professional Competence determines that the employee should be dismissed or suspended.

The bill would also make conforming changes to these provisions.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 requires rigid plastic packaging containers that are sold or offered for sale in this state to meet, on average, one of specified criteria and defines terms for purposes of those requirements. One of those criteria that a rigid plastic packaging container may meet to satisfy this requirement is that the container be source reduced. The act provides for the enforcement of these requirements by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery and provides that an entity making a false certification pursuant to those requirements is subject to a violation for fraud.

This bill would revise the definitions of the various terms used in the those requirements, including revising the definition of the term “source reduced” to impose new requirements, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program by changing the definition of a crime.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.