Contact: Claudia Briggs, 916-325-1550
Educators meet with and testify before Senate Education Committee Wednesday in Support of AB 215 (Buchanan, Correa, Padilla)
SACRAMENTO – More than one dozen educators met with members of the Senate Education Committee before testifying during the committee’s hearing Wednesday, urging passage of AB 215 by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan and principal co-authors Senators Lou Correa and Alex Padilla. AB 215 prioritizes, updates and streamlines the teacher discipline and dismissal process – saving time and money, while protecting students and ensuring an educator's rights to due process.
“CTA has always supported changes to the dismissal process that protect students and are fair to educators. This is truly an example of a diverse group of folks coming together for thoughtful changes to the dismissal process that truly make a difference in ensuring student safety without stripping away the professional due process rights our teachers have earned,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel.
AB 215 updates and prioritizes the teacher discipline and dismissal appeal process with the goals of keeping students safe, saving time and money and ensuring due process rights for educators. The bill creates a separate hearing process for education employees charged with egregious misconduct, including child abuse, sexual abuse and certain drug offenses.
“As educators, keeping children safe in our classrooms is always a top priority. We want to teach in a safe learning environment for our students, alongside educators who are committed and qualified,” said Linda Ortega, a second grade teacher at Mount Diablo Elementary School in Clayton. “This bill clarifies current law to ensure educators who engage in egregious misconduct are immediately removed from the classroom, criminally charged and go through an expedited dismissal process.”
Districts are required to start these egregious misconduct cases within 60 days of a complaint being filed. The case will be heard by an administrative law judge and that decision will be binding.
“This bill is about priorities and making sure the students we are entrusted to teach come first while protecting the professional rights of teachers. School districts must handle these cases quickly while following the law,” said Kimberley Gilles, a veteran teacher at Monte Vista High School in Danville, who was recently awarded the NEA Award for Teaching Excellence, a top honor in education. “Providing a safe learning environment is a civil rights issue and why I support streamlining the dismissal process for the sake of our kids.”
Educator Shauna Adams has personal reasons for supporting AB 215.
“As a child I was a victim of physical abuse,” shared Adams who teaches transitional kindergarten in Hacienda-La Puente. “Although it pains me, I am sharing my story with lawmakers because I need them to understand the urgency of creating a process that more rapidly handles cases that involve sexual and child abuse.”
Educators are encouraged by the overwhelming support of EdVoice and other community groups, as well as Assembly Member Buchanan, the governor and principal co-authors. CTA will continue to work with education stakeholders, lawmakers and the governor's office to ensure AB 215 is signed into law.
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.