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Buchanan.jpgThe Legislature appears to be in a stalemate over changing the disciplinary process for teachers -- an issue that arose out of a high-profile molestation case involving a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, that would make it easier to fire teachers who are accused of gross misconduct, such as sexual abuse. But the measure, Senate Bill 1530, died in the Assembly Education Committee due to strong opposition from teacher unions.

The measure's demise generated broad editorial criticism, and the political fallout reverberated in last year's elections. One Democratic Assembly member who refused to vote for the bill, Betsy Butler of Santa Monica, lost her seat to fellow Democrat Richard Bloom, who hammered her on the issue.

This year, the unions sponsored their own teacher discipline bill, essentially streamlining the process now engraved in the law but not going nearly as far as the Padilla measure.

The union-sponsored measure, Assembly Bill 375, whizzed through the Assembly with strong Democratic support but on Wednesday was rejected by the Senate Education Committee.

The bill, carried by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, garnered four votes from Democrats on the committee, one short of the five required, but no other members voted -- echoing how Padilla's measure had died in the Assembly Education Committee.

Wednesday's non-voters included the chairwoman of the committee, Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge. Buchanan chairs the Assembly Education Committee and had voted against the Padilla bill last year.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan D-Alamo, in 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.


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