When state lawmakers voted in favor Tuesday of a bill to streamline the process for firing teachers accused of sexual abuse or violent acts against students, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, who represents Sierra Madre, was among those who supported the measure.
However, Huff, R-Diamond Bar, lamented the rejection of amendments he offered to the bill, contending that the changes would have streamlined the review process, and if deserved, would have removed teachers from the classroom who bully students by name calling, physical restraints, or public humiliation, according to a news release.
After he introduced the amendments, Democratic lawmakers moved to “lay them on the table,” and voted against including them in the final bill, Huff said.
“These amendments were intended to offer students throughout the state the protections specifically sought by the Los Angeles Unified School District following reports of teacher misbehavior and probable sexual abuse at Miramonte Elementary,” he said.
Two teachers at the South Los Angeles elementary school were arrested earlier this year for allegedly committing lewd acts on children.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, authored the proposed bill. The Senate voted 33-4 Tuesday to send the legislation to the Assembly, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Padilla’s legislation would do the following:
- Allow school boards to place an employee on unpaid leave after a motion of dismissal
- Require appeal hearings be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge whose decision would be advisory to the school board
- Allow evidence older than 4 years to be considered
- Eliminate prohibition of dismissals during the summer months
- Empower school boards to make the final decision on dismissal
Padilla said in a news release that current law does not enable school boards in California to make the final decision on whether a teacher, principal, or other certificated employee should be dismissed. Senate Bill 1530 would change that in the case of serious and credible allegations or evidence of sex offenses, violence, or the sale, use or exchange to minors of controlled substances.
“SB 1530 carefully and narrowly modifies the dismissal process in cases of sex, violence and drugs,” Padilla said. “It would empower school boards to act decisively to protect children while maintaining important due process rights.”
Huff, who represents Glendora in the 29th Senate District, contends that Padilla’s proposed bill is too narrow in scope.
“Although Senator Padilla’s bill addresses that one outrageous case, Senate Republicans urged their fellow Senators to adopt the amendments that would have given schools the ability to quickly review the behavior of all teachers accused of behaviors that can cause long-term physical and emotional damage to children,” Huff said in a statement.
“There is no place for a teacher who hurls racial slurs at a student, or one who makes fun of a student’s speech impediment, or one who humiliates a young girl by making her urinate in a bucket in front of her classroom,” Huff added, citing recent examples of actual classroom cases in California.
The Los Angeles Unified School District calculates that is costs around $300,000 and takes several years to remove teachers who “engage in egregious classroom behavior,” he said. That is an expense most districts can’t afford, he said, adding that the rejection of his proposed amendments amounted to Democrats siding with unions.
Both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers oppose the proposed bill.
Last week, more than 200 CTA members lobbied lawmakers not to pass the legislation, according to the organization’s blog. The group wants the bill amended or killed, citing concerns about protections for teachers.
“CTA will continue its opposition until the bill is amended so that teacher dismissals are fair,” CTA officials said.