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Buchanan.jpgA union-backed teacher discipline bill is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown, despite concerns from school districts, the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators that it falls short of improving the current process.

Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo said the legislation she authored - Assembly Bill 375 - will streamline due process and save schools time and money.

The bill failed in a Senate committee in July, but was revived and on Thursday -- the last day the Legislature plans to meet this session -- the bill cleared both houses.

"I still think it's better than status quo," said Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego. "I will support this bill knowing it's flawed."

CSBA officials say the bill could force school districts to settle with bad teachers due to an "unworkable" proposed time limit for completing dismissal hearings.

Buchanan's bill prevailed over another teacher discipline bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. Padilla's bill faltered in part because of opposition from the California Teachers Association, which supported Buchanan's legislation.

Padilla began pushing his bill last year as a way to expedite the process for firing teachers. His efforts came in the wake of public outcry in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where a teacher received a $40,000 payout to settle an appeal after he was fired for allegedly sexually abusing students.

Padilla's bill required districts to begin dismissal proceedings against teachers following an allegation of sexual abuse and gave school boards the power to uphold the decision on appeal.

Republican Senator Steve Knight of Palmdale said bills like Padilla's would truly address teacher discipline issues.

"Instead the unions got involved and wrote this bill," Knight said during Senate floor debate.

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


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