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Considering Bills on “Redskins” Nickname, CAHSEE

Governor Brown Signs Legislation Capping Superintendent Severance Pay

September 17, 2015

On September 2, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 215, which was introduced by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) earlier this year. Assembly Bill 215 reduces the severance package a school superintendent may receive. After various unsuccessful legislative attempts to pass similar legislation and adamant opposition, this bill addresses concerns that have long plagued local schools and their efforts to narrow resources to benefit students.

“I am very pleased that the Governor recognized and honored the legislature’s efforts in creating a solution to this unique issue,” states Alejo.  “By placing limits on cash settlements, we save money for students, begin to improve our schools administrative processes, and demonstrate fiscal discipline in the administration of taxpayer dollars.”

Currently, when a superintendent’s contract of employment is terminated, he or she is eligible for a severance pay of up to eighteen times their monthly salary, which can potentially be very costly. This bill caps the severance package to a maximum of twelve times their monthly salary. This bill also terminates any cash settlement a superintendent may receive, if they are found to have been engaging in illegal fiscal activities.

“No one deserves to be awarded for breaking the law,” states Alejo. “This legislation will ensure that those who have broken the law and are attempting to take advantage of their school’s economic state will no longer be able to do so.”

Pursuant to an independent audit, superintendents who engaged in fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices may receive up to six times their monthly salary.

Assembly Bill 215 will take effect on January 1, 2016.

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Legislation barring California public schools from using the Redskins name for sports teams and mascots is on its way to the governor.

AB 30 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) would prevent public schools from using the term that American Indians regard as offensive, starting in 2017.

Alejo says the name dates from a period in California history when bounty hunters were rewarded for slaying Native Americans and should not be dignified with school affiliations.

Only four schools in the state still have teams or mascots called the Redskins.

The Assembly gave the California Racial Mascots Act final approval with a 54-8 vote on September 10.

A federal panel ruled last year that the team trademark for NFL's Washington Redskins should be canceled, but the team is challenging the decision.

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Lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill suspending the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) as a graduation requirement – retroactively. Students will get their diplomas if they completed all other graduation requirements. The bill – SB 172 by Sen. Carol Liu (D-Flintridge) – applies as far back as the 2003-2004 academic year (when the CAHSEE was created).

Brown last month signed legislation canceling the exam as a requirement for graduation this year. That gave a reprieve to about 5,000 students left in limbo when the state canceled the test in anticipation that lawmakers would remove the requirement.

It is estimated that SB 172 (if signed by the Governor) would open the way for tens of thousands of former high school students who did not pass the CAHSEE (but completed all other graduation requirements) to petition to receive a high school diploma.

Republican Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas says it's "a dumb move" to suspend tests that demonstrate what pupils have learned.

Senators approved SB 172 on Sept. 10 on a 23-14 vote.

Sources:  Office of Assemblymember Luis Alejo, EdBrief staff.



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