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CalifHomelessVeterans.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has rejected a bill intended to streamline the process for firing teachers in California.

Brown's veto of Assembly Bill 375 marks the second straight year that high-profile legislation aimed at facilitating the teacher dismissal process failed in California. Last year, a measure by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles died in committee.

Proponents of the bill have argued that districts face a prolonged, costly fight when they move to fire teachers. While this year's measure won the crucial support of the California Teachers Association, Brown repudiated it, saying in his veto message that the bill could "make the process too rigid and could create new problems."

The bill would have limited the amount of time that a case can take after a district formally files dismissal charges and would have lifted a ban on issuing dismissal notices during the summer months. In his veto message, Brown praised the bill for curtailing "opportunities for delay."

But the governor cited concerns about language limiting the number of depositions both sides can invoke in firing disputes - five total - and rules governing whether districts can use newly surfaced evidence to alter charges.

"I share the authors' desire to streamline the teacher discipline process," Brown wrote, "but this bill is an imperfect solution."

In addition to compressing the timeline for dismissal cases, the bill would have allowed districts to use sexual harassment-related evidence older than the current limit of four years. Under current law, dismissal cases go before a three-person panel comprised of two educators and an administrative law judge, and the bill sought to prevent additional delays by clarifying what types of teachers are eligible.

It also would have tweaked the repercussions that various offenses carry for teachers. The bill added murder and attempted murder to the list of charges that merit immediate leaves of absence; removed language exempting offenses stemming from marijuana, mescaline and peyote from mandatory leaves of absence; and removed an outdated statute listing "knowing membership in the Communist Party" as a means for firing a teacher.

Counterbalancing union support for the bill was an array of school districts, as well as the Association of California School Administrators, who shared Brown's critique that the legislation would not provide needed flexibility.

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to clarify that the bill would have required, not removed, mandatory leaves for marijuana, mescaline and peyote offenses.

PHOTO: California Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation relating to veterans' housing bonds on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in San Diego. The Associated Press/Lenny Ignelzi.



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