Keeping a vow he made last week, the chairman of the Legislature's joint audit committee sent a letter today asking Gov. Jerry Brown to dump top officials of the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, is seeking the ouster of Executive Director Dale Janssen; attorney Mary Armstrong, director of the Division of Professional Practices; and commission Chairwoman Ting Sun.
"Their leadership has contributed to the myriad of problems and threatens the safety of our most vulnerable -- our school children," Lara said in his letter, delivered to Brown's office today. (Read the full letter after the jump.)
Brown's aides, Janssen and Armstrong could not be reached immediately for comment. Sun declined to respond to Lara's letter, saying she had not seen it.
The commission of 160 employees sets state standards for teacher education, issues credentials to qualified instructors, enforces professional practices, and sanctions teacher misconduct.
Lara targeted commission leadership in the wake of a state audit that found fault with the panel's process for handling complaints of teacher misconduct, including lapses in launching investigations, updating files, gathering facts, tracking cases and revoking credentials in teacher misconduct cases.
"Regretfully, the report revealed several serious concerns that warrant immediate action," Lara's letter said.
At a two-hour legislative hearing before Lara's committee last week, Janssen and Sun tried to reassure lawmakers that the commission is taking criticism very seriously and either has implemented, or plans to, audit recommendations on training, computer improvements, case management, hiring and other matters.
"We have addressed all the concerns of the audit, and we have responded to all the recommendations in the audit," Sun said today.
Even if Brown wanted to comply with Lara's letter, his ability to do so may be limited, because the commission's top administrators are not gubernatorial appointees. The commission's governing board chooses the executive director, who selects the office's top aides.
Janssen plans to leave in December, regardless. He announced his resignation weeks ago, before the audit was released.
Brown apparently will have the ability to appoint a majority of the commission's 15-member governing board in the near future. Four vacancies exist and three incumbents have not yet been confirmed by the Senate -- thus, they potentially could be replaced. Terms of Sun and two other commissioners expire in November.
"Our office shares Asssembly member Lara's concerns and is in the process of identifying candides to fill available and soon-to-be-available seats on the commission," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.