The California Teachers Association applauded the governor’s signing of Assembly Bill 215 last week, a bill that updates and streamlines California’s teacher discipline and dismissal process.

“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,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member CTA. “Our students deserve a safe learning environment and to be taught by educators who are committed and qualified.”

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.

Also, 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.

Because these revisions will increase the number of employees subject to immediate placement on compulsory leave of absence, thereby increasing the duties of school districts, the bill will impose a state-mandated local program.