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Top leaders of the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing are stepping down in the wake of a blistering audit report and fiery criticism by legislators over the panel's handling of teacher misconduct cases.

Executive Director Dale Janssen's final day is Friday and General Counsel Mary Armstrong, head of the division that oversees teacher sanctions, will depart as soon as a replacement can be found, said Ting Sun, commission chairwoman.

Sun announced their retirements Thursday during a public meeting of the commission's governing board in Sacramento.

The departures of Janssen and Armstrong come about a month after their ouster was requested by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee but has no authority to fire commission personnel.

Janssen said that the decision to leave now was his own. Two months ago, before the political firestorm, he had announced plans to retire in December, giving the commission plenty of time to find a replacement.

"I don't believe I can be an effective leader under the circumstances," Janssen said today.

Armstrong reached a similar conclusion, Sun said. "She also believes she can no longer be an effective leader in the environment created after the release of the (state audit)."

State Auditor Elaine Howle, after releasing her office's findings in April, characterized the Commission on Teacher Credentialing as one of the "worst run" state agencies she ever had investigated.

Auditors found flaws in nearly every aspect of the commission's regulatory process, including lapses in launching investigations, updating files, gathering facts, tracking cases and revoking credentials.

Sun, who also was cited by Lara last month as someone who should step down, said today that she has no plans to resign from the commission's governing board. Her term expires in November.

In announcing the departures of Janssen and Armstrong, Sun said that she wants to assure the public that the commission takes its responsibilities seriously and is moving "expeditiously to address the recommendations made by the auditor."

"As transitions will already be occurring on the management team, we have new opportunities to improve our operations at the commission. It is our goal to get back on track because the work we do is so important to the students of California," she said.

Gov. Jerry Brown filled two vacancies on the 15-member governing board Tuesday by appointing Democrats Michael Cooney, 66, a partner in the Santa Barbara Investment Group; and Nancy Ramirez, 46, western regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Both appointments require Senate confirmation.


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