Firing a tenured teacher in Californi...

Firing a tenured teacher in California can be tough

Posted in the Vallejo Forum


Vallejo, CA

#1 Jan 28, 2013
Firing a tenured teacher in California can be tough

She pulled a 5-year-old special-needs student from his chair, then kicked him as he lay on the ground.

But while parents in the Brentwood Union School District railed against district officials this week for failing to fire teacher Dina Holder for her actions, those who have studied the laws governing teacher dismissal said the outcome is all too easy to understand.

Firing a tenured teacher who poses a threat to students takes too long and is too expensive, according to lawmakers, child advocates and teacher union representatives -- but none of them agree on how to fix the problem.

Holder retained a job even though she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor child abuse charge in the 2010 incident. She was transferred to another school, where she taught until a legal settlement reached this month mandated her removal from the classroom.

Like their counterparts across California, Brentwood school district officials had to contend with cumbersome state education laws requiring extensive documentation and a long and expensive appeal process. California has more than 1,000 school districts and 300,000 teachers, yet only 667 dismissal cases were filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings between January 2003 and March 2012, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District's chief labor and employment counsel, Alex Molina. Only 130 of those actually got to the hearing stage, and 82 resulted in dismissals -- fewer than 10 a year.

One youth law expert points to the powerful California Teachers Association as the biggest obstacle to removing troublesome teachers from the classroom. A bill that would have expedited the firing of teachers was shot down last summer in committee, but has been reintroduced.

The union says its members deserve due process and that current law, if followed properly by districts, allows for dismissals.

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