The state Legislature passed a locally authored bill Friday that aims to protect and ensure the safety of children. Assembly Bill 375, authored by Assembly Education Committee Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), streamlines the appeal process for teacher dismissal, resulting in faster resolution and significant cost savings to school districts.
"I am gratified that after long debate and months of hard work, AB 375 is on its way to the Governor's desk," Buchanan said in a statement.
"The current system results in dismissal disputes taking years to resolve with costs that can exceed $100,000. The only people who win are the attorneys. This is a major step in the right direction."
In cases of child and sexual abuse, AB 375 maintains the ability of school districts to immediately remove the teacher from the classroom as well as the ability to issue a notice of dismissal at any time during the calendar year.
The assemblywoman caught flack last year when she voted against a bill that could have let school districts fire teachers who commit sexual or drug-related acts with children. Buchanan has defended herself regarding her vote; she explained that the bill was flawed, and said district already have ways of ousting an employee involved in physical, sexual or drug-related child abuse.
The bill could become "one of the State's most important and overdue education reforms in more than a decade," according to the Los Angeles Times. It removes the four month summer ban on issuing dismissal notices for unprofessional conduct, allows evidence of child or sexual abuse allegations more than four years old to be considered and requires school districts to place an employee charged with homicide on leave. Under AB 375, all appeal hearings must begin within six months of filing.
AB 375 received the support of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, California State PTA, Crime Victims United, Child Abuse Prevention Council, California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers.