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California Agency Slow To Probe Teacher Misconduct

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(credit: Getty Images)

(credit: Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California agency responsible for revoking teacher credentials drags its heels on investigating misconduct, which allows educators to keep working in classrooms years after reports of their violations, according to a state audit.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing had a backlog of 12,600 cases in the summer of 2009, or about three years of cases, according to the state auditor’s report to the California legislature.

The audit found commission employees took more than two months to begin reviewing 11 of the 29 cases auditors studied, and did not keep good track of information.

“These conditions appear to have resulted in delayed processing of alleged misconduct and potentially allowed educators of questionable character to retain a credential,” state auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

In the case of a teacher accused of kissing a student in 2007, the commission did not contact the school district until 2009.

Another teacher was suspected of showing students pornographic materials in 2008, but the agency did not request police reports until 2010. By then, the vice principal who reported the incident had retired, one student could not remember the details and others could not be located, the Times said. The teacher went to work in another school and the case was closed with no action.

The audit recommended the commission improve its database and provide more training to ensure information is gathered correctly and made easy to find. It also recommended looking at whether more employees are needed.

Commission spokeswoman Marilyn Everett said the agency is taking the audit’s findings seriously and has already made changes, including entering arrest data electronically.

The commission, which has 32 full-time employees, last year revoked the credentials of 306 teachers and administrators. The commission also grants teacher credentials.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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