In California, school districts can remove a teacher accused of serious misconduct from the classroom, but must put them on paid leave through the dismissal process — and during appeals — if the employee contests the action.
Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) wants to change that.
“Such cases should not be allowed to languish in a process that can last for years and consume significant school resources,” said Padilla when he introduced Senate Bill 10 last December.
Padilla's bill focuses exclusively on teachers who commit crimes against children involving sex, drugs or violence. It would suspend payment to teachers in those kind of cases after a school board votes for dismissal. If the dismissal gets overturned on appeal, the teacher would receive back-pay.
SB 10 would also expand the type of evidence that can be included in hearings on misconduct. Current law bans evidence older than four years. Padilla thinks excluding older evidence can conceal “a history of inappropriate and potentially criminal behavior.”
Padilla pushed for the same changes last legislative session, but his bill died in committee.
The California Teachers Association opposed changes it said would violate the due process rights of teachers.
A state audit on teacher dismissals in LAUSD released in December found that the cost and length of dismissals encourages officials to settle with accused employees.
On Thursday, 57-year-old Robert Pimentel pleaded not guilty to charges that he fondled some of his female students and a co-worker at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School.
KPCC has confirmed that Pimentel was a volunteer soccer coach for six years with the American Youth Soccer Organization.