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Governor Signs Bill Streamlining Process of Teacher Discipline and Dismissal

July 7, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on June 24 – AB 215 (Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo) – that updates and streamlines California’s teacher discipline and dismissal process, saving the state time and money while protecting students and ensuring an educator's rights to due process.

AB 215 clarifies current law and creates a separate hearing process for education employees charged with egregious misconduct, including child abuse, sexual abuse and certain drug offenses. School districts are required to start these egregious misconduct cases within 60 days of a complaint being filed. The case will be heard only by an administrative law judge and that decision will be binding.

Additionally, AB 215 streamlines the hearing process for all other dismissal appeals. It requires districts to hold the hearing within six months of an educator making a request and requires the hearing to be concluded within seven months. These hearings will be heard by the Commission on Professional Competence, which includes an administrative law judge and two educators. Decisions will be binding.

AB 215 had cleared both houses of the California Legislature on unanimous, bipartisan votes. The bill was supported by the California Teachers Association (CTA), which had opposed some earlier bills in the area of teacher discipline and dismissal. Dean Vogel, president of the CTA, said “For California’s educators, keeping children safe in our classrooms is always a top priority.¬†We have long supported streamlining the dismissal process so we are pleased to see this legislation unanimously approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Our students deserve a safe learning environment and to be taught by educators who are committed and qualified.” However, some newspaper editorials criticized the bill, saying it did not go far enough in changing existing policies relating to teacher discipline/dismissal.

Sources:  EdBrief staff, California Teachers Association.