Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law this week that will marginally streamline and expedite the process for sacking teachers at public schools in the state.
Assembly Bill 215 will somewhat reduce the layers of red tape that kick in any time a taxpayer-funded school wants to fire a teacher, reports The Sacramento Bee.
The new legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, another Democrat, will also slightly hasten termination proceedings for teachers who are accused of appalling crimes such as, say, molesting little kids.
Possibly, for example, Assembly Bill 215 will allow schools to quickly get rid of elementary school teachers like Los Angeles grade school teacher Mark Berndt, who pleaded no contest to charges of feeding semen to children in his class and taking bondage-style photos of them.
Another teacher, Craig Chandler, was sentenced to 75 years to life for blindfolding second- and third-grade girls and coercing them to perform oral sex on him. (RELATED: San Jose Teacher Accused Of Vile Molestation Of Grade-School Girls)
Previously, a committee of two teachers and a judge would convene to decide the employment fate of teachers on the verge of getting sacked, according to Bay Area NBC affiliate KNTV. Under the new law, it will be a single administrative law judge.
Brown vetoed a bill similar to AB 215 last year.
One difference this year is a two-week-old court ruling, “Vergara v. California,” in which Los Angeles Superior Court judge Rolf Treu found that strict rules limiting how teachers are hired and fired disproportionately impact the state’s poor and minority students, thereby depriving the students of their right under state law to an equal education. (RELATED: California Court Rules Against Generous Teacher Tenure)
At the same time, AB215 was already in California’s legislative hopper before Judge Treu made his ruling. In the weeks since the decision, no additional legislation has been proposed to modernize the state’s tenure rules.
The American Federation of Teachers has sworn to appeal the judge’s decision gutting the state’s laws regarding teacher tenure and seniority protection.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has argued that “full and fair funding” would turn bad teachers into good teachers. She also argued that bad teachers in core academic classes would improve if kids spend more time away from them learning “music, art and physical education.” (RELATED: American Federation Of Teachers Vows To Force Crappy Teachers On Poor Kids)
The Association of California School Administrators has complained that AB 215 doesn’t go nearly far enough in speeding up the process for terminating the jobs of bad teachers. A spokesman for the group also said the bill defines reprehensible conduct too narrowly.
The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.