Updating and Streamlining Teacher Discipline and Dismissal Process
Keeping Students Safe, Safeguarding the Profession and Protecting Rights of Educators
AB 375 would update and streamline the teacher discipline and dismissal process, saving school districts time and money while at the same time ensuring due process. The bill also removes outdated reference to code, updates other sections consistent with current school calendars and clarifies the responsibilities of both school districts and teachers with respect to the appeal process.
- Changes the grounds for dismissal by separating immoral conduct from unprofessional conduct. It also removes references to termination for membership in the Communist Party.
- Preserves the current ability of a district to file a notice of dismissal at any time on the basis of immoral conduct, including the summer months. For all other offenses, AB 375 will allow a school district to file a notice of dismissal at any time during the school year.
- Eliminates the special process in code for contesting a suspension based on membership in the Communist party.
- Consolidates the suspension without pay appeal process with the dismissal process in administrative court. Under current law, an employee who has received a notice of suspension without pay and a notice of dismissal must appeal the suspension to Superior Court and the dismissal to the Office of Administrative Hearings. AB 375 establishes an appeal process through the Office of Administrative Hearings, which will ensure that districts and employees are not litigating similar issues in two venues at the same time.
- Eliminates the exceptions built into code for employees who are charged in criminal court with the aiding or abetting the unlawful sale, use, or exchange to minors of marijuana, mescaline, peyote and tetrahydrocannabinols. Under AB 375, employees who have been charged with these offenses will be subject to a mandatory or optional leave of absence.
- Changes the charge for homicide or attempted homicide from an optional to a mandatory leave of absence offense. Currently, a district is not obligated to place an employee on a leave of absence if that employee is charged with homicide.
- Shortens the dismissal appeal process by setting a deadline of seven months from the request for hearing to completion. Currently, there is no deadline and parties are allowed continuances that can allow the process to drag on for 12-18 months, or longer.
- Allows the parties to stipulate to a hearing with an administrative law judge only. Under current law, even if both parties agree, a Commission on Professional Competence must be convened. AB 375 provides an option in cases when both parties deem the Commission unnecessary to resolve the dispute.
- Requires the parties to nominate their respective members of the Commission on Professional Competence by 45 days prior to the date set for hearing and creates a limited process for each side to oppose the member nominated by the other party. The current practice of opposing members of the CPC can add significant time and cost to the process.
- Requires CPC members to have taught for three of the last ten years in the subject area/discipline of the teacher appealing the dismissal. Currently, the requirement is that panel members must have taught for five of the last ten years,
- Allows evidence more than four years old to be presented at hearing under specific circumstances.
- Removes the ability of litigants to take discovery disputes to Superior Court, which currently slows down the process and adds costs. AB 375 sets forth discovery rules that will allow for a thorough exploration of the issues for hearing, and mandates that discovery disputes be resolved through the Office of Administrative Hearings.