With unusual speed, the California Teachers Association on Friday endorsed a bill Assemblymember Joan Buchanan introduced three days ago that would quicken the process for dismissing teachers. The teachers association joins Sen. Alex Padilla, who is dropping his own dismissal bill in support of Buchanan’s, thus creating a consensus among opposite sides of one of the most contentious issues last year in the Legislature.
The teachers union also supports another bill by Buchanan, D-Alamo, that would require school staff to receive annual training on their obligations to report suspected child abuse. “CTA supports these bills because they provide immediate protections for students and streamline and shorten the dismissal process to ensure charges are handled fairly and in a timely manner,” the union said in a statement. “We commend Assembly Education Committee Chair Joan Buchanan for her hard work in developing the legislation and Senator Alex Padilla for signing on as co-author.”
The teachers association customarily takes weeks to analyze bills and seek the approval of member councils before announcing their positions on bills. But the union is sensitive in the wake of horrific allegations of sexual abuse by a handful of teachers. In opposing Padilla’s teacher-dismissal bill last year, the union was characterized by union opponents and commentators as protecting abusers over victims (see here, here and here for examples).
In an interview Friday, CTA President Dean Vogel said that the union had issued an interim position, because a hearing on Buchanan’s bill, AB 375, is scheduled before the CTA’s State Council can weigh in. Nonetheless, Buchanan’s legislation addresses reasons CTA had opposed Padilla’s bill. While AB 375 “is not a perfect bill, at the same time we recognize that the dismissal process has to be streamlined and made less cost prohibitive.”
AB 375 would deal with some of the issues school districts have cited for the cost and length of time it takes to fire teachers for abusive acts and poor performance. The bill would set a seven-month time limit for resolving dismissal appeals and restrict the expansive use of evidence in hearings. It would also remove the statute of limitations for introducing evidence in sex abuse cases.
However, it would not cut back the basic due-process rights of teachers. The bill Padilla, D-Los Angeles, dropped, SB 10, would have given school boards the authority to make final decisions in cases of egregious misconduct, eliminating the authority of a three-person Commission of Professional Competence.
For a more detailed explanation of Buchanan’s bill see EdSource Today story earlier this week.