LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles Unified School District unveiled two resolutions Monday aimed at better protecting students from sexual predators.
“These two resolutions don’t just call on LAUSD, [they] call on Los Angeles, the state of California to do what is right, to help us have the best environments for our young people,” said Monica Garcia, LAUSD Board President.
Garcia and fellow LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan urged fellow members to support the two measures Monday morning during a news conference. The resolutions are intended to streamline the dismal of teachers for immoral behavior and make it easier to notify parents of immoral conduct.
The LAUSD has been criticized for the way it handled the arrest of Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on a child.
Parents say they weren’t notified about his arrest – which prompted several students to come forward with unrelated accusations against other teachers – in a timely manner.
Fellow Miramonte teacher Martin Springer, 49, was arrested last month after two of his former students told police they were fondled in his classroom.
“My resolution seeks to change state law so that certificated employees engaged in acts that are unprofessional, immoral or criminal can be dismissed faster and at less cost to the district,” Galatzan said.
District leaders have said they are limited in how they respond to such allegations, so Protecting Children in the Classroom aims to streamline the dismissal process by specifically targeting certificated employees who are engaged in acts of moral turpitude against children.
Currently, dismissing a teacher can take as long as seven years depending on the number of appeals, Galatzan said.
Under the state code, the district is required to send a teacher written notice that he or she has been charged with an act worthy of termination, and the board has to wait at least 45 or 90 days, depending on the allegations, before acting.
The authors of the second resolution, Improving Transparency, Process and Procedures for Student Safety, say it will make it easier to identify, remove and prosecute employees who sexually or physically abuse children. It also aims to create a uniform procedure for notifying parents and guardians about such cases.
Both measures are supported by Superintendent John Deasy.
United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher issued a statement Monday following the news conference.
“LAUSD must not continue its pattern of hasty, misguided responses, such as the removal of the entire Miramonte staff. To ensure the safety of our students, school board members and district officials must commit to the important work of conducting thorough and sober investigations.”
The full LAUSD board is expected to vote on both measures Tuesday in a 1 p.m. meeting.