A highly contested bill that potentially would make it quicker and less costly to dismiss teachers has risen from legislative purgatory with significant changes that could lead to passage by the Legislature this week.
When last we left AB 375, in July, the author, Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, was one vote shy of getting the bill out of the Senate Education Committee; the bill appeared bottled up for the year. But Buchanan has been negotiating with Sen. Carol Liu, chairwoman of the education committee, and agreed to three key amendments. With Liu’s support and crucial vote, AB 375 passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and, after a visit to Senate Appropriations Committee, is likely headed to the Senate floor. The deadline for passing all bills is Friday.
Spurring calls for change was the case of elementary school teacher Mark Berndt, now awaiting trial on multiple molestation charges against students. Los Angeles Unified paid Berndt
$40,000 in back pay and legal fees in 2012 on the condition that he not contest the district’s dismissal charges against him. Since then, the district has agreed to pay $30 million in settlements to dozens of children whose families have filed claims against it.
Groups representing school boards and teachers agree that the process for firing teachers,