Mike Myslinski at 408-921-5769 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org
SACRAMENTO – Dozens of educators from Sacramento and around the state lobbied lawmakers today against unnecessary legislation that would have eroded their rights during dismissal proceedings. They stressed that current laws are adequate to protect students and teachers – and called on a state agency to probe why Superintendent John Deasy of the Los Angeles Unified School District did not follow the current law in a serious incident at Miramonte Elementary earlier this year that sparked the flawed SB 1530 by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys.
After hearing testimony against SB 1530 from United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher, CTA Board of Directors member Michael Stone of Orange County and numerous other educators, the Assembly Education Committee failed to get the six votes needed to move the bill out of committee and it died. However, the committee then voted to reconsider the bill at a later date. If no hearing is held by July 6, the bill will die in committee. As of now, no hearing is on the legislative calendar.
“As currently written, SB 1530 solves nothing, places teachers at unfair risk, and diverts attention from the real accountability issues at LAUSD,” said Fletcher of UTLA, the union representing the district’s educators. In his testimony today, Fletcher cited incidents where Deasy and the LAUSD administration failed to fulfill the legal requirements of current California teacher oversight laws.
CTA President Dean E. Vogel, Fletcher, CTA Board member Stone and numerous educators have signed declarations asking the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to investigate Deasy’s handling of teacher misconduct allegations in LAUSD.
Stone said SB 1530 would gut teacher due process rights by removing the accused employee’s ability to be heard before a neutral panel and replacing it with an advisory-only hearing before a single administrative law judge. “The school board then would have the authority to accept the judge’s decision, or reject it and hold a new hearing where they will determine the outcome,” said Stone, a middle school teacher in Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County. “Why should management be given new authority to ignore an administrative law judge? This legislation is political grandstanding that would only hurt the teaching profession.”
It was wrong that the bill would remove teachers from the state Commission on Professional Competence when other similar panels that regulate doctors or lawyers have members of those professions, said James Harper, who teaches Advanced Placement government at a high school in the Elk Grove Unified School District.
“The concept that you would not have teacher membership on a panel that reviews professional conduct flies in the face of what’s done for every other licensed profession in California,” Harper said. “We go into this profession because we care about people, we care about students. Because of that, we don’t want teachers in our profession who are not in that mind-set, either.”
Senator Padilla had refused to accept CTA amendments to streamline the dismissal process. Linda Ortega, a second-grade teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Concord, said, “Our voices must be heard. This attack on due process rights of teachers ignores what current law does. Current law keeps students safe, safeguards the integrity of the teaching profession and protects our rights.”
Groups opposing SB 1530 include the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Employees Association, the California Labor Federation, the California Professional Firefighters and the Peace Officers Research Association of California group. CTA members statewide have asked lawmakers for weeks to oppose the faulty bill.
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.