Thursday, May 31, 2012

GRIM LAWSUIT IN LAUSD MOLESTATIONS

Courthouse News Service

Courthouse News Service

By MATT REYNOLDS Courthouse News Service | http://bit.ly/KMCZZ9

Thursday, May 31, 2012 Last Update: 7:18 AM PT  ::   LOS ANGELES (CN) - Parents and 11 former students of Miramonte Elementary School claim in Superior Court that Los Angeles Unified School District ignored the "rampant molestation" of Mark Berndt, a 61-year-old teacher who was fired in January.

     Berndt is not a party to the complaint, but the former teacher has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on 23 children age 7 to 10. He is being held on $23 million bail.

     Among other things, Berndt is accused of spoonfeeding his semen to blindfolded children, or putting it on crackers or cookies for them to eat. He also placed cockroaches and other bugs on the children, and videotaped and photographed the acts, according to the complaint.

     "Berndt is a true serial sexual pervert and child molester," the complaint states.

     The parents accuse LAUSD of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Bane Act*, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

     Members of the LAUSD Board of Education and Superintendent John Deasy are among the named defendants.

     A similar complaint was filed at the same court on May 4.

     According to the lawsuits, Berndt was hired even though he had a criminal record for child abuse and had been accused of sexual abuse in previous teaching jobs.

     The parents say that in the early 1990s Miramonte students complained that Berndt had sexually abused them, but "the charges were blatantly ignored and the children were told in essence: 'Stop making up stories.'"

     LAUSD's inaction allowed Berndt to sexually abuse Miramonte students for "over two decades unfettered," according to the new complaint.

     "Absent any action by LAUSD, or the Miramonte administration, to supervise or restrain Berndt he continued with his depraved and rampant abuse of his very young students, scaring them for life and robbing them of their trust, peace of mind, innocence, and childhood as only a true sexual deviant can," the complaint states. "The nature, scope, duration, and depravity of his abuse was on a truly massive and unprecedented scale in American history. His victims likely number in the hundreds."

     During Berndt's tenure, the parents say, two other teachers, Martin Springer and Richard Guevara, were also abusing students. Guevara is serving jail time, according to the complaint, and Springer was arrested in February.

     "In essence, at one period in time no less than three serial child molesters were actively abusing hundreds of Miramonte students at the same time for years," the complaint states.

     Berndt allegedly kept a jar of Vaseline on his desk which he used to masturbate in class, and sometimes wore a "freakish" Mickey Mouse costume with women's tights, the parents say. They claim the school's principal Martin Sandoval walked into the classroom as Berndt was videotaping students but let him off with a verbal warning.

     The parents claim LAUSD ignored those red flags and other instances of "freakish behavior."

     "LAUSD ignored multiple prior student complaints about Berndt and a district attorney investigation. LAUSD ignored parent complaints and failed to detect the massive number of lewd acts committed by at least three active child predators on one small campus for years," the complaint states.

     It adds: "Moreover, when hundreds of disgusting and heart-wrenching photographs of children being abused by Berndt surfaced in the media, LAUSD then tried to cover it up, belittled the accusers, buried the story and obstructed the criminal investigation."

     The parents say LAUSD allowed Berndt to stay on campus after the allegations surfaced, then tried to blame the parents for not detecting the abuse.

     "LAUSD is charged with the ultimate responsibility to keep the children entrusted to them safe and secure, and yet failed miserably to uphold that responsibility," the complaint states.

     The plaintiffs seek punitive damages.

     They are represented by Brian Claypool of Pasadena.

 

* per the CA Attorney General: "The Bane Act," Civil Code section 52.1 --provides protection from interference by threats, intimidation, or coercion or for attempts to interfere with someone's state or federal statutory or constitutional rights (these include association, assembly, due process, education, employment, equal protection, expression, formation and enforcement of contracts, holding of public office, housing, privacy, speech, travel, use of public facilities, voting, worship, and protection from bodily restraint or harm, from personal insult, from defamation, and from injury to personal relations)-- proof of "hate motivation" required, according to a 1994 Court of Appeal decision in Boccato v. City of Hermosa Beach

LAUSD EXEC REJECTS DISTRICT’S $200K SETTLEMENT

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/KLGQpB

Updated:   05/29/2012 10:12:21 PM PDT  ::  The Los Angeles Unified facilities executive who claimed sexual harassment by retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines has refused to sign a proposed settlement, citing disputed provisions of the deal and its premature release to the public.

Attorneys for Scot Graham, 56, released a statement late Tuesday, blasting district officials for a press conference held last Wednesday in which they disclosed that the school board had approved paying him $200,000 cash and lifetime health benefits worth $250,000 to $300,000 to settle a sexual-harassment claim.

"We have no enforceable settlement agreement," said Maurice Pessah, one of Graham's attorneys.

A statement from Graham's lead attorney, Arnold Peter, also said that

Graham has been "banned" from LAUSD headquarters, placed on administrative leave from his $150,000-a-year job as director of leasing and asset management, and told he will be terminated on Thursday.

Under the proposed settlement, Graham had agreed to resign May 31. However, his attorneys said he never submitted his resignation.

A spokesman for the district said that after Graham tentatively OK'd the agreement, he was told not to report to work until his resignation took effect on May 31.

Linda Savitt, the labor attorney hired to represent the district in the Graham case, issued a statement Wednesday saying LAUSD had announced the settlement "in the interest of transparency." She also said the deal remains in effect.

"Last Tuesday evening, the attorneys for Scot Graham accepted the terms of the settlement agreement that were approved by the Board of Education," she said. "The district relied on Mr. Graham's acceptance and stands by the terms reached."

The sexual-harassment allegations stem from an encounter between Cortines and Graham, two longtime friends, during a weekend spent in July 2010 at a home Cortines owned in Kern County. In a statement last week, Cortines characterized the incident as "consensual spontaneous adult behavior."

Graham, however, complained about Cortines to a supervisor in August 2010 and said he was seeking counseling from a therapist, according to the district's version of events.

The district also said that Graham insisted he didn't want any action taken, even when the district's top attorney, general counsel David Holmquist, was alerted to the situation.

"All district sexual harassment investigation practices were adhered to in this matter," Savitt said in statement last week.

Graham's attorneys contend that district officials violated district policy and state law in refusing to protect the 12-year LAUSD employee.

"Mr. Graham brought his complaints to executives at the highest levels of the LAUSD, none of whom ever initiated an investigation as they were required to do," Graham's attorneys said.

Graham's attorneys notified the district in March - nearly a year after Cortines retired - that he intended to file a sexual-harassment claim against the superintendent.

Hoping to avoid potentially expensive litigation, the school board met three times in executive session, including the May 22 session when members voted 4-3 to OK the deal.

Graham's attorneys said they were presented with "a poorly drafted and incomplete short-form agreement" shortly after the board vote, and were given two hours to decide whether to accept it. Graham gave a verbal OK but never signed the deal.

However, the settlement was presented as a done deal during a May 23 briefing with reporters. The meeting was held at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, about a block from LAUSD headquarters, a locale that officials said was chosen to avoid disruption to district operations.

"The public disclosure of the terms of an unsigned settlement which the parties had agreed would be confidential and the circulation of a spurious portrayal of Mr. Graham's allegations against the LAUSD and Mr. Cortines, along with constituting bad faith negotiation tactics, was unlawful," Peter said in a statement.

Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said that under the state's open meetings law, the district was not obligated to release information about the board's executive-session vote until after the settlement was signed by both sides.

BAD FAITH TACTICS AND CLEAR VIOLATIONS OF THE LAW BY LAUSD RESULT IN FURTHER CHARGES OF COVER-UP IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

Press statement from attorneys for Scot Graham, who alleges former LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines sexAuly harassed him, 5/29/2012 http://scr.bi/LZhzcz

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WEIGHTED STUDENT FORMULA: less funding for disadvantaged students?

Figuring districts’ weighted funding

Yardstick is 47% increase by 2018-19

By John Fensterwald - Educated Guess Thoughts on Public Education http://bit.ly/KJ3DCv

Funding Formulas for California Schools IV: An Analysis of Governor Brown’s Weighted Pupil Funding Formula, May Budget Revision


BY Heather Rose, Jon Sonstelie, and Margaret Weston, Public Policy Institute of CA | May 2012 | http://bit.ly/KdFVRi

Posted on 5/29/12 •The state Department of Finance has released the district allocations under Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised plan for weighted student funding that shaves off the peaks, fills in the valleys, and includes other changes that make allotm  ents flatter, arguably fairer, and potentially more politically palatable to those who criticized aspects of the formula.

The 77-page spreadsheet of district and charter school allocations doesn’t reveal – and inquiring minds will want to know – how districts compare with one another and with a statewide average once the formula is fully funded in 2018-19. But the raw numbers are there to calculate percentage increases and per-student spending, and Nick Schweizer, the program budget manager for education in the Department of Finance, did provide me with a district average increase, along with some cautions.

That figure is 47 percent, which is to say that between the base year of 2012-13 and full funding seven years later, the Department of Finance is projecting the average district’s growth under the formula, which covers most but not all education spending, will be 47 percent. This assumes that the tax increase proposed for November passes; the weighted student formula will be put off if it doesn’t. So, if your district revenues increase more than 47 percent, because you have large numbers of disadvantaged students, it’s more than likely a “winner” under the formula; if under 47 percent, it’s more than likely a “loser.” (Update: The Public Policy Institute of California on Tuesday released an analysis of the revised formula, with district figures. Go here.)

The impact of the proposed weighted student funding formula on the state's 10 largest districts. To determine a district's increases in per student funding from 2012-13 to full funding in 2018-19, divide columns 5 and 7 by student enrollment in column 4. Source: state Department of Finance. (click to enlarge)

The impact of the proposed weighted student funding formula on the state's 10 largest districts. To determine a district's increases in per-student funding from 2012-13 to full funding in 2018-19, divide columns 5 and 7 by student enrollment in column 4. Source: State Department of Finance. (Click to enlarge)

The chart at left, which shows the 10 largest districts, illustrates the impact. Santa Ana Unified, with 84 percent poor children and 56 percent English learners, will see district funding rise 71 percent (last column divided by fifth column) by 2018-19, and per-student funding rise from $6,460 to $11,040. Capistrano Unified, with 10 percent English learners and 21 percent low-income students, will see district funding rise 38 percent and per-student funding increase from $6,052 to $8,388.

There are caveats to consider when comparing a district with the 47 percent statewide average:

& As Schweizer points out, this assumes that, absent the formula, nothing will have changed in the allocation of categorical or restricted money and general or revenue limit spending in seven years. That would be unlikely, given that the trend has been to cut or eliminate some categorical programs and increase the revenue limit;

& Some districts might get less than 47 percent and still do better than they would have otherwise, if they are currently getting little categorical money. Each district’s individual circumstances vary somewhat;

& A district’s base in 2012-13 matters. Some districts, like Los Angeles Unified, will see per-student spending increase less than 47 percent. But they will start with a high base in 2012-13 and will end up doing well in 2018-19 (more on why later).

As for the 47 percent spending increase over seven years: Finance released a graph showing per-student funding, but only through 2015-16 (see chart), as far into the future as it makes detailed projections. Schweizer said that for the remaining three years, Finance conservatively projected 5 percent annual revenue increases. It also assumed flat district enrollments for the calculations. The four-year, ¼ percent sales tax increase that is built into the calculations ends in 2015-16, complicating the picture.

Significant changes from January’s formula

Under a weighted student formula, districts will receive a base funding per student plus a supplement based on the number of  low-income students and English learners. Brown proposed to fund the supplement, or weighted portion, from a pot of what has been categorical programs. Districts with few disadvantaged students will lose most if not all of that money, amounting to hundreds of dollars  per child.

Responding to criticisms of his initial proposal in January, the governor:

& Raised the base and added grade differentials, recognizing that high school districts have been getting higher funding and elementary schools have received subsidies for smaller classes. The base will be $5,466 per student for K-3, $4,934 for 4-6, $5,081 for 7-8, and $5,887 for 9-12. The K-3 funding will have the previous class-size reduction categorical money folded in, though districts will be free to use the dollars however they choose.

& Reduced the weighted amount for disadvantaged students from an extra 37 percent per child to 20 percent;

& Cut the bonus amount to districts with high concentrations of disadvantaged students from a maximum of 37 percent to a maximum of 20 percent for districts with 100 percent disadvantaged students. The concentration factor is phased in for districts with more than 50 percent disadvantaged populations. The administration has not offered the research behind the concentration factor. Putting that aside, allocating it on a districtwide basis overlooks the fact that individual schools in districts with low overall rates of disadvantaged students may have heavy concentrations of poor students and English learners.

An example is Mount Diablo Unified in Contra Costa County, with an overall average of 21 percent English learners and 36 percent low income. Mount Diablo High School has 71 percent low-income children and 43 percent English learners, while Ygnacio Valley Elementary has 79 percent low-income and 62 percent English learners. Their students will gain nothing because of the district’s average.)

& Phased in the program over seven years instead of six years, starting next year with 5 percent weighted student funding/95 percent current system.

& Paid off what districts are owed from recent years’ cuts and denied cost-of-living raises on the revenue limit portion, which is student funding minus categorical programs. This debt is called the deficit factor and now totals 22 percent of the revenue limit amount – a huge IOU.

Conditioning the full implementation of the weighted student funding on repayment of revenue limit dollars removes a major criticism of the plan. But that will not satisfy those districts with relatively few disadvantaged students, which will permanently see their categorical dollars shifted to more needy districts.

An example is Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County, with a total of 5 percent English learners and low-income students. Under the January proposal, the district would actually have lost money under full funding. Under the latest plan, per-pupil spending will rise 23 percent, or about half of the state average, by 2018-19, because of  the loss of about $609 per student in categorical funds, a little less than 10 percent of total funding. Associate Superintendent Chris Learned says that he’s sympathetic to the need for weighted student funding, but that districts’ funding should be fully restored to the 2007-08 pre-recession level before phasing in the new system.

& Pulled two big categorical programs totaling nearly $2 billion (Correction: $1.3 billion) out of the weighted student distribution formula. These are the Home to School Transportation program and the Targeted Instructional Improvement Grant (TIIG), which is mainly money districts received to settle desegregation suits.Neither TIIG nor bus money has been equitably or rationally distributed among districts. But districts like Los Angeles Unified (where TIIG amounts to about $500 per student) and San Jose Unified (nearly $1,000 per student) would be crippled without the money. Brown is proposing to let districts keep what they’ve gotten for TIIG and transportation but no more. Over time, the impact of the money would diminish by not receiving yearly cost-of-living adjustments.

Under the revised formula, Los Angeles Unified’s per-student funding would increase 44 percent by 2018-19, slightly less than the state average, while San Bernardino’s funding would increase 58.5 percent (see chart), significantly above average. But because of TIIG, Los Angeles would start with a bigger base and end up in 2018-19 with $10,967 per student, about the same as San Bernardino’s $11,027.

In May 2012, Governor Brown revised his proposal for a new way to allocate revenue to California’s school districts. This report uses the PPIC School Finance Model to asses this revision. It finds that the proposed changes would lead to less funding for disadvantaged students and reduce the differences in funding gains among districts.

Conclusion


The revisions to the governor’s proposal have reduced differences among districts in how new revenue would be allocated. In the original proposal, high school districts received relatively smaller increases in revenue than other districts. The grade-level weights in the new proposal have lowered that difference. For a given level of student disadvantage, under the new proposal high school districts would receive similar revenue increases as other districts receive. The revised proposal also distributes additional revenue more evenly among districts of the same type. The original proposal channeled proportionally more revenue to districts with high percentages of disadvantaged students. This is still true with the revised proposal, but the differences are smaller among districts with different levels of student disadvantage.

This research was supported with funding from The Silver Giving Foundation and the Stuart Foundation.

FULL REPORT

Focus on Grant High Humantas: A SAN FERNANDO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL TRIES TO GO BEYOND TEACHING TO THE TEST

 

By Noelle Conti | Patt Morrison, KPCC 89.3 |

http://bit.ly/L3yagK

  • Grant Slater/KPCC

    Brock Cohen, Deja Mitchell and Oscar Sanchez

  • Grant Slater/KPCC

  • Grant Slater/KPCC

    Jacqueline Espinoza, Chissay Gonzalez and Rafael Diaz

  • Grant Slater/KPCC

  • Grant Slater/KPCC

    David Granados, Simone Linscomb and Rachel Mullin

Grant Slater/KPCC

 

May 30, 2012  ::  There is the ongoing contentious debate brewing in education over linking teachers’ job security to their students’ academic performance. Many teachers complain that the emphasis

on measuring their performance based on student performance, as well as the general stress on test scores, creates a temptation to forego creative, challenging lesson plans and instead “teach to the test.”

Some are struggling against the trend, arguing that it can inflict long-term damage if students graduate without learning comprehensive reading and critical thinking skills.

During this special hour, we check in on a program called Humanitas at Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley that is employing an innovative approach to teaching -- one that seems to be successful, though not without its challenges.

As the Humanitas program tries to go beyond “teaching to the test,” its teachers confront a host of challenges: How do they reach kids who have made it to high school without ever reading a book and have limited study skills? How do they assign compelling and contemporary reading material when there aren’t enough textbooks and the school’s copy machines don’t work? How do they make kids feel valued when they don’t have enough desks or even janitors to sweep the floors? How do they get parents, many of whom are immigrants and either unfamiliar with the school system or too busy working long hours, to participate in their kids’ education? How do they get the resources and support they need to implement the program to its fullest potential?


Regardless of whether test scores go up and down or how "Secret Life of the American Teenager" portrays the school, the students at Grant High School are just teenagers. They have dreams. They have problems. They have secrets, and they shared some with us.

What was your high school secret? Tweet with #teensecrets, tag KPCC in your Facebook post, or share confidentially at scpr.org/network. Bonus points if you write it down and take a picture of it. Thank you!


Guests:

Brock Cohen, teacher, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Deja Mitchell, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Kaleb Wilks, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Katie Cohen, teacher, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Macie Mullens, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Michael Clark, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Rachel Watson, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Harjinder Singh, graduate of Grant High School and recipient of the Gates Millenium Scholarship
Linda Ibach, principal, Grant High School
Melissa Serrano, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Simone Linscomb, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Noreen Kragen,student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Edita Abelyan, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Diane Bekian, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Kristen Makaryan, Humanitas program at Grant High School

Elsewhere on the Web

NEW RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR BETTER REPORTING ON CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM

By Marc Maloney,  SI&A Cabinet Report | http://bit.ly/LGBlqg


Tuesday, May 29, 2012  ::  A new report on chronic absenteeism confirms its status as a major barrier to pupil success but says efforts to define the scope of the problem are hampered by a dearth of absenteeism data.

“The Importance of Being in School,” by researcher Dr. Robert Balfanz of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, found only a handful of states measure and report on chronic absenteeism, which the report defines as missing at least 10 percent of school days in a given year – California being among those who do not keep up with the reporting.

 

Finalchronicabsenteeismreport may16

“Because it is not measured, chronic absenteeism is not acted upon,” Balfanz notes. “Like bacteria in a hospital, chronic absenteeism can wreak havoc long before it is discovered.”

The report estimates up to 15 percent of students nationwide are chronically absent, meaning as many as 7.5 million students miss enough school to be at severe risk of dropping out or failing to graduate from high school.

The report splits absenteeism into three broad categories:

• Students who cannot attend school due to illness, family responsibilities, housing instability, the need to work or involvement with the juvenile justice system.

• Students who will not attend school to avoid bullying, unsafe conditions, and harassment.

• Students who do not attend school because they, or their parents, do not see the value in being there, they have something else they would rather do, or nothing stops them skipping school.

The study differentiates chronic absenteeism from truancy or average daily attendance, the attendance rate schools use for state report cards and federal accountability.

At the school level, average daily attendance rates largely mask the problem. The report notes a school can have an average daily attendance rate of 90 percent and still have 40 percent of its students chronically absent, since different students comprise that 90 percent on different days.

The true magnitude of the problem likely is understated, Balfanz reported, as his research could find chronic absenteeism reports for only Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon and Rhode Island.

Another variable is the different ways in which states measure chronic absenteeism. There are differences in the number of days missed and whether transfer students are included in the counts.

The six states reported chronic absentee rates from 6 percent to 23 percent, with high poverty urban areas reporting up to one-third of chronically absent students. In poor rural areas, one in four students can miss at least a month’s worth of school.

Chronic absenteeism is most prevalent among low-income students, with gender and ethnic backgrounds apparently not a factor. The youngest and the oldest students tend to have the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, with students attending most regularly in grades three through five. The absenteeism rates begin to rise in middle school and continue to climb through grade 12, with seniors often having the highest rate of all.

The negative impact on school success are also noted in the report, which found significant numbers of students in low-income neighborhoods miss staggering amounts of school, sometimes from six months to more than one year, over a five-year period .

Balfanz called out a number of big states, including California and New York, for not collecting individual attendance data and the need to calculate chronic absenteeism.

“Because we don’t measure or monitor the problem, we generally don’t act on it,” said Balfanz. “Left untreated, the problem will likely worsen achievement gaps between rich districts and poor districts and curtail the positive effects of promising current and future reforms.”

Balfanz calls the data reporting problem structural, running from the school to the state to the federal level. Schools know students are missing but don’t examine the data by student to determine individual absenteeism rates.

The impact of missed days is dramatic: chronically absent students are less likely to score well on achievement tests and less likely to graduate. Students who miss 10 percent of school days on average score in the 30th percentile on standardized reading and math tests, compared to those with zero absences, who score in the 50th percentile.

After evaluating data from multiple states and school districts, researchers concluded consistently high chronic absenteeism is the strongest predictor of dropping out of high school, stronger than course failures, suspensions or test scores. Data from Georgia showed a very strong relationship between attendance in grades eight, nine, and 10 and graduation, with as much as a 50 percentage-point difference in graduation rates for students who missed five or fewer days compared to those who missed 15 or more days.

The report’s other findings include:

• Students who are chronically absent in one year likely will be so in subsequent years and may miss more than a half-year of school over four or five years.

• Urban schools often have chronic absentee rates as high as one third of students, while poor rural areas are in the 25 percent range.

• While the problem affects youth from all backgrounds, children in poverty are more likely to be chronically absent. In Maryland, chronic absentee rates for poor students exceeded 30 percent, compared to less than 12 percent for students from more affluent families.

• Chronically absent students tended to be concentrated in a relatively small number of schools. In Florida, 52 percent of chronically absent students were in just 15 percent of schools.

• In some school districts, kindergarten absenteeism rates are nearly as high as those in high school.

• In a nationally representative data set, chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade. The impact is twice as great for students from low-income families.

Despite the connections between absenteeism and lack of success in school, the report does offer an encouraging note about attendance.

“Students need to attend school daily to succeed,” it says. “The good news of this report is that being in school leads to succeeding in school.”

To reduce chronic absenteeism, the report suggests instituting aggressive attendance campaigns, and having the federal government, state departments of education, and school districts regularly measure and report the rates of chronic absenteeism and regular attendance for every school.

It also says mayors and governors must play critical roles in leading inter-agency task forces that bring health, housing, justice, transportation, and education agencies together to coordinate efforts to help every student attend every day.

To view the entire report, see https://getschooled.com/attendance-counts/report

© Copyright SI&A Cabinet Report.

CORTINES-LAUSD SEX HARASSMENT SETTLEMENT COULD UNRAVEL

Terms of the agreement involving an employee's complaint against former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines and its premature disclosure emerge as problems.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/KZ9cei

Ramon C. Cortines

Former L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines was accused of making inappropriate sexual advances to an employee. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / April 14, 2009)

May 30, 2012  ::  A settlement with the employee who made allegations of sexual harassment against former L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines threatened to unravel Tuesday over disputed terms of the agreement and its disclosure by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The allegations also have had fallout at the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, which sent a delegation Tuesday to meet with Board of Education President Monica Garcia over changing the downtown school's name.

The harassment allegations arose from an encounter between Graham and the former superintendent at Cortines' ranch in Kern County in July 2010. In a statement, Cortines last week described what happened as an episode of consensual, "adult behavior."

Scot Graham contended, through his attorneys, that Cortines had made inappropriate sexual advances.

The school system announced last week that the Board of Education had approved paying $200,000 and providing lifetime benefits to Graham, a senior manager for 12 years in the facilities division. In exchange, Graham agreed to resign as of May 31, the district said at a media briefing.

Officials also acknowledged they could not confirm that the agreement had been signed, but they said they anticipated no hold-ups.

That optimism was premature, in part because of the district's announcement, which was managed by the public relations firm Cerrell & Associates.

"The press briefing occurred without Mr. Graham's consent to be publicly identified, and before an agreement was signed," according to a statement from Graham's attorneys. "No final agreement has been reached."

Graham's attorneys also have disputed a timeline of events, supplied by the district, suggesting that officials handled the matter sensitively from the start. In addition, they said Graham understood the value of the lifetime health benefits to be $300,000, whereas the district told reporters the value was $250,000. That discrepancy has given them pause, they said, as well as additional reason to question the school system's good faith.

The school system said it is sticking to the settlement agreed upon by both sides.

"The district relied on Mr. Graham's acceptance and stands by the terms reached," said Linda Savitt, an outside attorney representing the school system.

State law would prevent the district from firing Graham, who was earning $150,000 a year, for bringing a sexual-harassment allegation.

The harassment allegations revived a sore spot in how the arts high school was named. Garcia and her colleagues had overriden pledges to give students, parents and teachers a key role in choosing a name for the campus when the board decided to name it for Cortines.

A group of school leaders met with Garcia for 90 minutes Tuesday, raising that issue. In a letter, they stated concern about "how the name of our school will be associated with improper actions by a former superintendent."

"The stigma," they wrote, "is already negatively affecting [student] morale, perception of ethics, and self-esteem."

Garcia was not persuaded, saying later that Cortines had long been a champion of arts education and also was instrumental in developing the school.

She suggested creating a supplemental, unofficial diploma with both the school's current name and its former, temporary one: Los Angeles Central High School No. 9.

In an interview, Principal Norm Isaacs said that, for him, the most vital matter was budget cuts that could result in the layoffs of 11 of 14 arts teachers.

Garcia told them she was hopeful the district could work out a deal with the teachers union for cost-saving furlough days, which would preserve all or most of the jobs.

Monday, May 28, 2012

WALL STREET’S INVESTMENT IN SCHOOL ®EFORM

By Diane Ravitch to Deborah Meier - Bridging Differences - Education Week http://bit.ly/JQpo02

May 22, 2012 8:44 AM

[We] used to have lively debates about standards, curriculum, pedagogy, and a lot of other matters where we disagreed. Now those debates seem antique compared with the current uncertainty about the future of public education.

The question today is whether a democratic society needs public schools subject to democratic governance. Why not turn public dollars over to private corporations to run schools as they see fit? Isn't the private sector better and smarter than the public sector?

The rise of charter schools has been nothing short of meteoric. They were first proposed in 1988 by Raymond Budde, a Massachusetts education professor, and Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Budde dreamed of chartering programs or teams of teachers, not schools. Shanker thought of charters as small schools, staffed by union teachers, created to recruit the toughest-to-educate students and to develop fresh ideas to help their colleagues in the public schools. Their originators saw charters as collaborators, not competitors, with the public schools.

Now the charter industry has become a means of privatizing public education. They tout the virtues of competition, not collaboration. The sector has many for-profit corporations, eagerly trolling for new business opportunities and larger enrollments. Some charters skim the top students in the poorest neighborhoods; some accept very small proportions of students who have disabilities or don't speak English; some quietly push out those with low scores or behavior problems (the Indianapolis public schools recently complained about this practice by local charters).

Contrary to the vision of the founders, the charter sector is overwhelmingly non-union. It has come to depend on young college graduates, who start at the bottom of the salary scale and leave within a few years. This keeps costs low and enables the charters to pay their executives handsomely and to create rewards for the for-profit industry. Charters are known for high turnover of both teachers and principals.

The results are in: Some charters get high test scores, some get low scores, most are no different in test scores from public schools. The wonder is that there are so many low-performing and mediocre charters when they have everything the reform movement demands: no unions, no tenure, no seniority, performance pay, and plenty of uncertified or alternatively certified teachers.

A major reason for the phenomenal growth of charters, both nonprofit and for-profit, is the zealous support of Wall Street hedge-fund managers. As The New York Times has reported, charters are the favorite cause of hedge-fund managers. The hedge fund managers even have their own organization, Democrats for Education Reform. DFER's agenda is indistinguishable from the conservative Republican agenda of choice and test-based accountability. The Los Angeles Democratic Party recently sought a "cease-and-desist" order to prevent DFER from using the word "Democrats" in their name since their policy agenda was not that of the Democratic Party.

The hedge-fund managers love to get public funding to manage schools that enroll minority children; this not only reduces the cost to them of running a charter school, but it enables them to fantasize that they are part of the civil rights movement of our day. Frankly, it is hard to imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. linking arms with Wall Street hedge-fund managers in a crusade to eliminate unions and to promote privately controlled alternatives to the public schools where the great majority of children are enrolled. Some of us remember that Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis while supporting the right of the city's sanitation workers to join a union.

I didn't understand just how devoted the hedge-fund managers are to charter schools until someone sent me this article from a business magazine: "Joining the school yard battle." It lists the many hedge-fund managers who are on the board of charter schools in New York City. There are also hedge-fund managers in other states (like David Tepper in New Jersey) who use their vast resources to promote charter schools and to attack teachers' hard-earned job protections.

The power of Wall Street is obvious. Political candidates must swear fealty to charter schools if they want to raise campaign contributions from hedge-funders. Perhaps that explains the enthusiasm for charter schools by the Obama administration, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy. There is no need to explain Republican enthusiasm for charter schools, because Republicans have been promoting school choice for the past 40 years. The only thing new is that the Wall Street guys have adopted the Republican agenda and rebranded it.

Wall Street understands success and failure. When companies fail, investors bail out. As studies continue to show that charters on average don't get better test scores than public schools, will Wall Street continue to be bullish about charters? Will they support only the ones that skim and exclude? When will they cut their losses?

That day will come, as the results continue to show that charters are no silver bullet, and that they succeed mainly by adding extra resources and picking their students carefully.

What will happen to American public education after Wall Street loses interest in charters and discovers other fun causes?

Jack O’Connell: FORMER STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION WEIGHS IN ON BUDGET

By Tami Abdollah, Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/KnHrih

27 May 2012  ::  California’s former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell has been traveling the state to brief school districts on the governor’s proposed budget and its potential effects on education. He now works for the educational consulting firm School Innovations & Advocacy.

Here's an excerpt of a brief Q & A with him:

Q: Whats the good and the bad of this budget?

A: The good news for this is we know the budget’s going to pass on time, we know it’s going to be signed, we certainly believe. And I think that might remove some uncertainty. But that uncertainty is going to continue, it’s going to because of the triggeres, the potential reductions, based upon the November election.

Q: What does this budget look like compared to others you've seen?

A: This budget contains more major policy initiatives in it than any that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been working on state budgets since 1982. This is a budget that toally rewirtes education school finance so that we don’t have money going out the door based upon money for kids in schools at school districts based upon some historical and traditional criteria. It really changes the distribution formula significantly. It proposed to o eliminate most of our categorical programs. It proposes to change our mandate program, so it really lets the state off the hook for those school districts that are going to seek reimbursement for maximum remuneration of services that they’re going to deliver.

It's a budget that through the budget process tries to eliminate transitional kindergarten, a program that the Legislature passed about two years ago that was going to have two years to ramp up, and now the govenror’s going to try to eliminate that. It’s a budget that really does attempt to significantly change policy. Not just fiscal policy, but real public policy.

Q: Is that in a good way?

A: I would certainly argue that the policy committees in the Legislature should be part of this discussion and part of this debate. For example if you’re going to try to elimnate the mandate on background checks that’s a public safety issue and we ought to make sure that’s heard by the public safety committee. If you’re going to attempt to eliminate funding through the mandate process for the actual cost of truants that too affects the school community, that affects the law enforcmenet community, and so that too ought to be discussed in the policy committee.

...

So many of these initiatives and bills have been passed and initiated to solve a problem, to address an issue, and to simply, through the budget process, try to eliminate funding for these programs, I don’t think is good sound public policy. We should really have the policy committees be able to render their opinion, their judgment, with maximum public participation. I think that helps minimize unintended consequences.

Q: What are people seeing today compared to what they saw in January?

A: The state budget deficit has grown significantly, from about $9 billion in January to about $16 billion. So the scope of the problem has increased nearly two-fold. That means they're more at risk for potential triggers. That means it’s more important the the governor's intiative pass. Otherwise, deficits are going to continue to grow."

Q: Why do all these major cuts seem to be to education?

A: The politics of this initiative, in my opinion, are public education, people don’t want to make any more cuts. People see the cuts have been real, seen, experienced, and felt, and to the detriment of our public school system. And so, if the governor can portray this initiative — that if my initiative fails then you’re going to see a disproportionate reduction in education funding — in the final analysis that might be the case...But I’m hopeful that, number one, the initiative passes, I’m supporting it and hope that it passes, I’ll be voting for it. Number two, I think even if it weren’t going to be successful I think we would have to revisit the notion that 99% of the cuts would come from education."

Q: So education won’t necessarily be cut so severely?

A: I think there's no question about it, that if the governor's initiative does not pass there will be severe reductions to public education. Will it be as severe as some people have talked about? Will there be potentially three weeks less school? I don’t think so. But would there be less school? I do think so. Will it be three weeks? Probably not that much.

Save Our Schools Webinar Friday June 1: EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS SAY "NO!" TO STANDARDS+ TESTS with Nancy Carlsson-Paige & Deb Meier

by email from save our schools | http://bit.ly/L7THRI

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Deborah Meier and Nancy Carlsson-Paige will discuss the myriad ways that young children learn through play and active experiences. They will contrast this meaningful and engaged learning with the more superficial, mechanical learning that is promoted when standards and tests dominate the early childhood curriculum, and discuss the implications of education reform policies for children and society.

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Better coverage: ROBERT DE NIRO HEADLINES BATES COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT

Sun Journal Staff

Andie Hannon, Staff Writer | Lewiston-Auburn Sun-Journal | http://bit.ly/Lvd0Hj

 

Thousands of people attended the 2012 Bates College commencement. Featured speakers included Robert De Niro, Bonnie Bassler and Gwen Ifill. | Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Actor Robert De Niro delivers his commencement speech Sunday morning at Bates College.| Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal:

Sunday, May 27, 2012 – LEWISTON  ::  Nearly 500 eager graduates gathered at Bates College on Sunday morning under beautiful blue skies to be sent off into the future by an eclectic and entertaining trio of speakers at the private liberal arts college's 146th commencement.

Thousands of family, friends and loved ones lined the school's historic quad and cheered as the Class of 2012, representing 33 states and 31 countries, made its way down the center aisle.

Featured speakers included leading molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler, actor Robert De Niro and PBS "NewsHour" senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. The three also received honorary doctorates from the college.

But it was the Oscar-winning De Niro who stole the spotlight, joking with graduates one minute, poking fun at himself and Bates at other times and ultimately settling into the serious demeanor he's best known for as an actor.

"If you're an actor, always be true to your character," a serious De Niro instructed the graduates. "If you're not an actor, then have character and always be true to yourself."

The 68-year-old De Niro dropped out of high school at age 16 to pursue an acting career. He told students his late mother would be proud of her son, who never graduated from high school or attended college, receiving an honorary doctorate. He also joked with the crowd about how his decision to drop out of school and not attend college saved about $6,000 back in the 1960s.

He joked with the crowd about how his decision today would have saved him roughly $250,000 for an education from Bates, and he got the degree anyway.

Mixed with the laughs about Bates' price tag, the students' wishing Will Ferrell was speaking instead of him, and telling students to be movie stars or "stay in school" because "the world is a scary place," De Niro offered students the same fatherly advice he said he bestowed on his own children.

"You came here, most of you, because of your values. This isn't a day for advice, it's a day for pats on the back," De Niro said. "Keep an open mind. Welcome new experiences. And don't be afraid to fail. If you don't go, you'll never know."

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Thousands of people attended the 2012 Bates College commencement. Featured speakers included Robert De Niro, Bonnie Bassler and Gwen Ifill.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Robert De Niro was not the only famous person to attend the Bates College commencement. Sigourney Weaver came to watch her daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Simpson, receive her diploma.

De Niro's message was similar to those of fellow commencement speakers Bassler and Ifill.

"When I was sitting where you're sitting, I'd been living for 22 years with a very strong internal critic," Bassler said, reminiscing about her days as a painfully shy University of California at Davis student. "I never imagined I would be this happy. I get to live a life of curiosity."

And getting there, the Princeton University professor pointedly told the crowd, came not from her degrees in biochemistry or national and international accolades for her scientific discoveries in how bacteria communicate.

It came simply from learning to say "yes" to all the challenges life presented her. Even today, as a nationally recognized scholar, she confessed to students of how she overcome her own fears about sharing Sunday's stage with the likes of De Niro and Ifill. Only by saying "yes" did she pave the way and find the courage to one day stand before future college commencement crowds by gaining the experience before the Bates Class of 2012.

"You do it by finding — or better yet — by making your own adventure. You do it by not saying 'no' because you're a afraid. There's a big difference between not doing something and not wanting to do something," Bassler said. "If I had one do-over in life, I would have learned to say 'yes' much sooner."

Bassler's rousing speech was met by a standing ovation from many in the crowd. Even Ifill, who spoke last, joked about expecting to be overshadowed by De Niro, but not a molecular biologist.

Ifill also urged students to open their minds to the world around them.

"My advice to you: look up," Ifill said. "It's so much simpler to look down. Our feet are down there. Our screens are down there. But our fears are down there, too."

The award-winning PBS journalist and author urged the graduates to take their eyes off their smartphones and computers long enough to recognize their futures and realize there is an entire world out there. A world, she added, that won't improve without them and other young people.

"If you look up, you see you have a responsibility to build a set of steps for all those behind you to catch up," Ifill said.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ROBERT DE NIRO TELLS BATES COLLEGE GRADUATES IN MAINE HE DID OK DESPITE LACK OF EDUCATION + smf’s 2¢ + additional coverage

By Associated Press, Washington Post | http://wapo.st/JnWNj5

image

bad photo panorama:  smf

Sunday, May 27, 2:29 PM LEWISTON, Maine (AP) | As he received an honorary doctorate Sunday, Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro told Bates College graduates that despite his own lack of formal education, he made out OK.

During a 15-minute address that was by turns sincere and irreverent, De Niro drew a steady stream of laughter from the 463 graduating seniors and more than 5,000 onlookers at the private, liberal arts college’s campus.

De Niro, who quit high school to pursue an acting career, was one of three high-profile guests who received honorary degrees at the Bates commencement. PBS “Newshour” senior correspondent Gwen Ifill and Princeton University molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler also were honored.

But it was De Niro who stole the show.

“In many ways, leaving school when I did it was an advantage. I saved nearly $6,000 by not having to pay tuition and expenses for four years of education,” he said. “I feel a little foolish, because if I had waited until now not to go to college, I could have saved around a quarter of a million.”

Looking back, he said, “it worked out just fine. I saved the money, and I got the degree.”

The honorary doctorate of fine arts was conferred by Nancy Cable, interim president at Bates. Trustee Michael Chu, De Niro’s friend, presented the degree.

De Niro also offered the graduates some serious advice.

“If you’re an actor, always be true to your character,” he said. “If you’re not an actor, have character and always be true to yourself.”

De Niro won a best actor Academy Award for “Raging Bull” and best supporting actor Oscar for “The Godfather, Part II.” He earned four more Oscar nominations.

 

2cents smf smf: I don’t know which Bates graduation the AP reporter went to, but De Niro’s opening message was “Stay in School”. Especially if you can’t be a movie star! And I realize that everyone is a film critic – and Dr. DeNiro was by turns funny, sincere and irreverent – but it was molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler who stole the show! See for yourself.

additional coverage:

Robert De Niro Receives Honorary Degree

  • ‎Access Hollywood - 1 hour ago

    As he received an honorary doctorate Sunday, Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro told Bates College graduates that despite his own lack of formal ...

    De Niro Talks To Bates Grads‎ MyFox Philadelphia
    De Niro talks to Bates grads, gets honorary degree‎ CBS News
    all 150 news articles »

     

  • De Niro addresses Bates graduates in Maine

    WGME - 2 hours ago

    LEWISTON, Maine (AP) -- Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro received a doctorate of fine arts during the 146th commencement of Bates ...

    “A Chance For Every Child”: ROMNEY’S EDUCATION VISION

    By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post | http://wapo.st/KtF9wD

    08:00 AM ET, 05/24/2012  ::  Anybody who thinks President Obama’s education policies have been unfriendly to public education should pay close attention to Mitt Romney’s newly announced school reform vision. Because what you don’t like about Obama’s, you may like even less about Romney’s.

    “A Chance For Every Child” is the name of the education program that the presumptive Republican presidential candidate spelled out in a speech and then a white paper released on Wednesday.


    << (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)

    Romney is advancing a pro-choice, pro-voucher, pro-states-rights education program that seems certain to hasten the privatization of the public education system.

    In a Romney-run education world, the parents of poor and special education students would choose a school — public or private, based on standardized test scores and other data — and then a specific amount of public money would follow the child to the school.

    It’s a voucher system that would, among other things, require families of the neediest children to constantly shop around for schools in an unstable market and would likely exacerbate the very thing — a chronic achievement gap — all of this is supposedly intended to fix. Obama opposes vouchers.

    Romney’s education vision is based on an ideology that demonizes unions and views the market as the driver of education reform. His program is not based on quality research or best practices; indeed, it doesn't mention the one reform that has been shown over years to be effective, early childhood education.

    It also inores the role that outside-school factors play in how well a student does in the classroom. School reformers and politicians can talk all they want about how a great teacher can overcome the effects of living in poverty and turmoil, but, systemically, they can’t. A hungry or tired or sick student just won’t do as well as one who isn’t. You only have to look at the most successful schools — traditional public and public charter and private — to know this to be true.

    Even though Romney has in the past praised the president’s education policies — they both, for example, support the expansion of charter schools — his white paper sharply criticizes Obama and works hard to draw distinctions between them.

    One area where they depart company is the role of the federal government in education.

    Obama’s Education Department has been powerful in shaping how states reform their schools by dangling billions of federal dollars — with major conditions attached. The problem has been those conditions, not the notion that the federal government has some role to play in public education.

    Romney’s view is that the federal government should have pretty much no control over local education. He would eliminate the accountability system in the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act, which would mean that states would no longer have to meet federal requirements for improving schools. States would again be left alone to run their own systems, a situation that led that famous liberal, George W. Bush, to insist on federal mandates in the first place a decade ago.

    Under Romney’s plan, standardized tests would remain central to school and teacher “accountability” (even though these tests weren’t designed for high-stakes purposes). It is fitting that the forward to the white paper was written by Jeb Bush, who, when governor of Florida from 1999-2007, created the test-based accountability system that has served as a model for other states (even though it has had so many problems that one major newspaper in the state recently declared it a failure).

    Romney opposes what he calls “unnecessary” teacher certification requirements, leaving the teaching door open to anybody who, for example, thinks they can teach math because they got good grades in the subject.

    He attacks the federal “highly qualified teacher” requirement as well-intentioned but says it serves only to “prevent talented individuals” from becoming teachers. This suggests that nobody on Romney’s team knows — or wants to acknowledge — that Congress has already undercut the requirement to allow anybody in a teacher training program to be considered highly qualified.

    Romney’s white paper repeatedly assails teachers unions while ignoring some key realities. He accuses Obama of being beholden to the unions. The unions would probably find that amusing; they only reluctantly came to work with the administration on some key reform initiatives.

    The National Education Association, the largest union in the country, has endorsed Obama, but that’s hardly because it is in love with his education policies. The NEA president, Dennis Van Roekel, has said that the union supports Obama because of his belief in public education and other shared values, and that any Republican presidential candidate would be “very much anti-collective bargaining and anti-public education.”

    The whole “blame the union” strategy has a central internal inconsistency: the problems in public education are the same in states with and without unions. The teachers unions may not have bathed themselves in glory and may have dragged their feet about reforming teacher evaluation, but it hardly seems fair to pin the “crisis in education” on them.

    There is no question that the public education system as the country has known it for decades has faced strong challenges, and has failed too many of the children in it. But rather than finding ways to strengthen it, the Bush and Obama administrations have made things more difficult for children and teachers — all in the name of accountability and higher standards. And if Romney gets a chance to run education policy according to his new plan, expect things to get worse.

    A Chance for Every Child

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    TICKETS TO NOWHERE: ROMNEY'S EDUCATION VOUCHERS

    Themes in the News by UCLA IDEA  Week of May 21-25, 2012 | http://bit.ly/LxcVyB

    05-25-2012   ::  Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has begun to lay out his education vision. On Tuesday, Romney announced the names of his education policy advisors, whom Diane Ravitch and others see as "a re-run of the George W. Bush administration" (Diane Ravitch blog, Education Week). A day later Romney paid homage to those predecessors by outlining some favorite Republican ideas from a decade ago.

    In a speech to the Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit, Romney voiced anger over the state of U.S. public schools—doing so with tones of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism":  “...Millions of kids are getting a third-world education," he said, "and, America's minority children suffer the most. This is the civil-rights issue of our era" (full speech text).

    The solution, Romney said, would lie in many of the same reforms that have been touted during the last two administrations. A Chance for Every Child:  Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education, highlights greater accountability (albeit from states, not the federal government), school report cards, and linking pay to teacher effectiveness. However, Romney’s provisions and rhetoric are more strident than past or current administrations. According to a Washington Post blog, "Romney’s education vision is based on an ideology that demonizes unions and views the market as the driver of education reform. His program is not based on quality research or best practices."

    Most significant was Romney’s promise to use vouchers to expand school choice in an "unprecedented way" (Education Week, NPR, Los Angeles Times). Romney's vouchers would let parents use Title I and special-education funds to send their students to charters or private schools or access online learning programs.

    Some critics have been quick to point out that adding burdens to already cash-strapped districts will not allow them to meet the needs of their neediest students. Others have called it a political ploy for low-income, minority voters. Still other critics point to the logistics of giving parents “choices” when none exist:  neither the private sector nor publically funded charters have shown the capacity and/or interest to absorb large numbers of students who have special needs or whose families are very poor.

    A 2011 report by the Center on Education Policy reviewed a decade's worth of research on vouchers and found no clear positive impact on student achievement, despite the fact that much of this research has been conducted by research organizations with ties to the voucher movement (Education Research Report). Little can be found in the last 12 years of “marketplace” reform that should give reformers confidence that vouchers can benefit education quality, equality, or the social good (Education Week).

    LAUSD TO APPLY FOR PALTRY RttT GRANT

    Posted by Michael Dunn, Modern School  | http://bit.ly/K189iT

    Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    3 Easy Tricks to Maximize Profits From the Public Sector

    1. Demand low taxes to increase personal income while decimating school budgets, thus making public education look like a disaster in need of corporate management

    2. Claim your private enterprise will solve these problems and should be funded with public tax dollars (e.g., charter schools, Common Core Standards, laptops for every child, new textbooks or ebooks, tutoring services, etc.)

    3. Insist that teachers’ unions are the main impediment to reform and lobby to have them weakened, eviscerated or outright banned

    All of the above have been on the table for years at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), one of the 176 California school districts currently at risk of going bankrupt. The district’s budget deficit for the 2012-13 school year was projected to be $390 million as of 3/13/12, according to the LAUSD website.

    There is no question that record low tax rates combined with revenue losses due to the housing market collapse have contributed to LAUSD’s budget woes, which in turn have led district officials to attempt all sort of ludicrous shenanigans, like asking teachers to take 20 furlough days (and consequently asking students to give up 20 days of instructional time). The latest absurdity is Sup. Deasy’s plan to plug the nearly $400 million dyke with a measly $25 million federal Race to the Top (RttT) grant (see the Los Angeles Times).

    For the first time, RttT grants will be offered to individual school districts, and not just states, willing to sell their souls for chump change. Aside from the fact that the grant would only cover 6% of the current budget hole, the one-time grant would expire at the end of the school year, leaving the district with the same problem the following year unless it can increase its revenue stream or find longer-term and bigger cuts.

    There are those who would argue that $25 million is better than nothing and in these dark times one must take what one can get. However, one must consider what must be sacrificed in order to get this “free” money before one can call it a good deal.

    Interestingly, the state of California found the eligibility requirements for RttT so burdensome that it voluntarily withdrew its grant proposal because the money was too little for what was being asked. Unfortunately, it did not make this realization until after it had already implemented some RttT requirements, like adoption of Common Core Standards (CCS), which are projected to cost the state more than $1 billion in new textbook and curriculum costs—far more than it would have won in RttT grants.

    One of the biggest sticking points is that the state or local districts would need to get union support before moving ahead, since RttT requires the use of student test score data in teacher evaluations, something that cannot occur without changes to teachers’ contracts. Some NEA and AFT locals around the nation have rolled over and accepted this, despite the fact that the data is inconsistent and often inaccurate even when used properly and, in many cases, it is not even used properly (see here, here and here). Consequently, many good teachers could be mischaracterized as ineffective and possibly fired as a result, thus depriving students of good teachers. Worse, it could drive many good teachers away from challenging lower income schools, or from the profession entirely, thus worsening the problem evaluation reform purports to fix.

    BIRMINGHAM HIGH SUBMITS PLANS TO FIX PROBLEMS, KEEP SCHOOL'S CHARTER

    By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/JkuOAJ

    Updated*:   05/25/2012 03:34:12 PM PDT  ::  Birmingham High officials have promised to rework admissions and disciplinary policies, enhance training and improve communication with LAUSD in an effort to prevent a revocation of the school's charter.

    The proposed reforms are detailed in a 215-page action plan filed Wednesday, the deadline for Birmingham to respond to a notice of charter violations issued May 1 by the Los Angeles Unified board.

    Birmingham Community Charter High school responds to Response to Notice of Violations issued by LAUSD

    While campus officials maintain that some of the violations result from misunderstandings with the district, "as a large and relatively new charter school, we acknowledge that we have made some mistakes and have not done the best job of communicating with the district," their response says.

    Larry Schapiro, who chairs Birmingham's governing board, said Thursday the school is prepared to do whatever it takes to retain its charter. School officials worked closely with LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan and with district staff members in crafting the response.

    "We asked for honest and tough suggestions about where we went wrong, where we didn't do as good a job as we should have," Schapiro said.

    Galatzan said she raised a number of issues with charter officials, including the high number of student expulsions, admissions irregularities and the lack of communication between Birmingham and the district.

    "I was also concerned that, for whatever reason, their governing board claimed not to have known about the problems," said Galatzan, who graduated from Birmingham. "If a board is running the school, I hold them responsible for not knowing what's going on."

    Schapiro has repeatedly said that Birmingham officials were stunned to receive a letter last month from Superintendent John Deasy, advising that the school's charter was in jeopardy.

    That letter outlined complaints from parents who said the school had illegally denied admission to special-education children and other youths from outside the neighborhood.

    There were also concerns about an inordinate number of expulsions and allegations that the school's basketball coach had discriminated against African-American players on the team. In its response, Birmingham officials denied that special-needs students had been denied admission because of their status. However, staffers were unaware that a charter must accept any student in the district and instead had been using the school's former attendance boundaries to determine enrollment.

    The school has already begun training sessions to avoid a recurrence of the problem, Schapiro said.

    The school has also overhauled its suspension and expulsion policy to bring it into alignment with LAUSD. The previous policy included a longer list of offenses that resulted in students being expelled.

    However, Birmingham rebutted the district's criticism over its handling of a racial bias complaint filed by a parent. Officials detailed their own investigation of the complaint, which is now the subject of a probe by the federal Office of Civil Rights. They argued that an allegation of discrimination by itself is not enough to conclude there is indeed discrimination, as a basis for revoking the charter.

    To help make improvements, the school has hired Doris Lasiter - who was principal before Birmingham went charter - as its interim executive director. It also plans to add four people with charter or other educational experience to its 11-member governing board.

    The action plan will now be reviewed by Deasy and the district's Charter Division, which may recommend additional changes before taking it to the school board.

    * An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that allegations of racial discrimination had been filed against the Birmingham athletic director. The story has been corrected to reflect that the allegations were made against the basketball coach.

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    LAUSD AND TWO MORE UNIONS, BUILDING TRADES AND SEIU, REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS ON 10 FURLOUGH DAYS FOR 2012-13!

    LAUSD Facebook Posting | http://on.fb.me/KNgJ0d

    May 25  5PM  ::  Unit E (Skilled Trades Employees) agreed to the unpaid furlough days providing more than $2.6 million dollars to help save jobs.

    “Again, our valued employees are willing to share the sacrifices necessary to save jobs and services,” said Superintendent John Deasy.

    Ron Miller, Unit E Business Representative, said, “The Building Trades and its affiliates continue to work with the District to develop innovative opportunities to bring savings to the District, maintain and upgrade infrastructure and keep our members on the job.”

    SEIU (Service Employees International Union) agreed to the unpaid furlough days preserving thousands of union jobs and full-year assignments totaling more than $40 million!

    “With this agreement the District recognizes the valuable role played by the SEIU membership in helping students learn,” said Dr. Deasy.

    Bill A Lloyd, the unions executive director, said, “As parents of children at LAUSD we understand this sacrifice is necessary in order to save good jobs and the services our children need to learn.”

    To take effect, the tentative agreements must be ratified by the union membership and approved by the LA Board of Education.

     

    Dr. D. in 140 characters or less  …x3… in 2 minutes!

    John DeasyJohn Deasy@DrDeasyLAUSD

    The tentative agreement reached between LAUSD and Unit E reflects a joint commitment to share sacrifices, save jobs, and help our students.

    8:28 PM - 25 May 12 via HootSuite

    John Deasy John Deasy@DrDeasyLAUSD

    The District recognizes valuable role played by SEIU membership in helping students learn.

    8:26 PM - 25 May 12 via HootSuite ·

    John Deasy John Deasy@DrDeasyLAUSD

    We are grateful that our partners with SEIU agreed to furlough days during these tough economic times.

    8:26 PM - 25 May 12 via HootSuite ·

    EMBATTLED CAL STATE CHANCELLOR CHARLES REED RETIRES

    By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/JCYNd7

    California University Cuts

    Rich Pedroncelli/AP - California State University Chancellor, Charles Reed, right, discusses the effects of past budget cuts. Reed announced Thursday that he’s retiring after 14 years in the university system.

    24 May  ::  California State University Chancellor Charles Reed announced Thursday that he’s retiring after 14 years in the university system.

    In a statement, Reed said he’s proud to have overseen the largest public university in the nation as it grew by 100,000 students and issued a million diplomas. He’s also proud of Cal State’s programs to recruit and retain more black, Latino, Native American and military veteran students.

    The heads of the University of California and the California Community Colleges, along with Assembly Speaker John Perez, praised Reed’s performance on the job.

    But California Faculty Association president Lilliam Taiz didn’t join that chorus. She said Reed concentrated on approving raises for the university’s top executives while instructors weathered pay cuts and students coped with soaring tuition.

    The new chancellor, Taiz said, should regard the job as a public service position, not the equivalent of a corporate CEO.

    Charles Reed will stay on until the Cal State Board of Trustees picks a new chancellor.

    ONLY ONE TEACHER DISMISSAL BILL REMAINS ALIVE AT STATE LEGISLATURE

    By Tami Abdollah, Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/LoHBTg

    California Stock Photo

    Bill Ferris/Flickr.com: California State Assembly floor

    3/25 - 3:21pm - Only one of three bills recently introduced in the state Legislature that aim to make it easier to dismiss teachers is alive today, and may continue on to change state law.

    AB2028, sponsored by Republican state Assemblymen Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley, died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee today — the end of the fiscal deadline.

    The bill, which was significantly amended last month, would eliminate the four-year limitation on introducing evidence to be used in proceedings and allow the dismissal process to begin during the summer.

    AB2028 passed out of committee in its amended form last month, but was put "on suspense" in the Appropriations Committee because it cost more than $150,000; a hearing was held today to take bills off suspense, but AB2028 died without a vote, said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the Office of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

    It would have cost the state $175,000 because of the expenses associated with mandating schools keep records for longer than four years, Lockhart said.

    The California State Assembly Republican Caucus has pushed the bill, which in its initial form mirrored the L.A. Unified school board resolutions adopted on the dismissal issue after a recent spate of teacher arrests for lewd conduct with children. The California Teachers Assn. has vocally opposed the dismissal bills introduced at the Legislature and called them a retraction of due process protections for teachers.

    "The committee approved hundreds of bills today, and I'm sure many of them cost more than $175,000," Lockhart said.

    Lockhart said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's staff testified in support of AB2028 in April and told legislators that it costs $300,000 to dismiss one teacher.

    Another bill, SB1059, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, never passed out of commitee in April.

    Of the three bills, only SB1530 remains alive. It passed out of the state Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. It will go to the state Senate next week for a vote. Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima worked with the CTA and committee members to amend the bill and narrow its scope.

     

    SB 1530 (Padilla): School employees: dismissal, suspension, and leave of absence procedures. 

    (as amended)

    Italicized text includes proposed additions to law or the previous version of the bill.

    Struck text includes proposed deletions to law or the previous version of the bill.

    (pdf version)

    AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 26, 2012

    AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 27, 2012

    INTRODUCED BY Senator Padilla

    FEBRUARY 24, 2012

    An act to amend Sections 44936, 44938, 44939,

    44940, and 44944 of the Education Code, relating to school employees.

    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

    SB 1530, as amended, Padilla. School employees: dismissal,

    suspension, and leave of absence procedures.

    (1) Under existing law, a permanent school employee is prohibited

    from being dismissed, except for one or more of certain enumerated

    causes, including for immoral or unprofessional conduct and

    unsatisfactory performance. Upon a charging that there exists cause

    for the dismissal or suspension of a permanent employee, existing law

    authorizes the governing board of a school district to give notice

    to the employee of its intention to dismiss or suspend the employee,

    as specified. Existing law prohibits the governing board of a school

    district from giving notice of dismissal or suspension of a permanent

    employee between May 15 and September 15 of any year.

    This bill would except from that prohibition of giving notice

    between those dates, proceedings where the charges involve specified

    offenses.

    (2) Existing law prohibits the governing board of any school

    district from acting upon charges of unprofessional conduct or

    unsatisfactory performance against an employee unless the employee is

    given written notice of the unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory

    performance, as provided.

    This bill would delete the provision that prohibits the governing

    board from acting upon charges of unprofessional conduct, as

    specified.

    (3)

    (2) Existing law authorizes the governing board of a

    school district to immediately suspend a permanent employee under

    specified conditions, including immoral conduct, and give the

    employee notice of the suspension, as specified.

    This bill would include serious or egregious

    unprofessional conduct within the conditions that a governing board

    may immediately suspend a permanent employee.

    (4)

    (3) Existing law provides that a certificated employee

    may be charged with a mandatory leave of absence offense for certain

    specified sex offenses or controlled substance offenses with the

    exception of marijuana, mescaline, peyote, or tetrahydrocannabinols.

    Existing law also provides that a certificated employee may be

    charged with an optional leave of absence offense for certain

    offenses, including controlled substance offenses, as specified, with

    the exception of marijuana, mescaline, peyote, or

    tetrahydrocannabinols. Existing law requires the governing board of a

    school district to immediately place a certificated employee on

    compulsory leave of absence if the employee is charged with a

    mandatory leave of absence offense.

    This bill would remove marijuana, mescaline, peyote, and

    tetrahydrocannabinols as exceptions to the controlled substance

    offenses for which a certificated employee may be charged with a

    mandatory leave of absence offense or an optional leave of absence

    offense.

    Because this bill would increase the number of employees subject

    to immediate placement on compulsory leave of absence, thereby

    increasing the duties of school districts, the bill would impose a

    state-mandated local program.

    (5)

    (4) Existing law requires that a requested hearing on

    the dismissal or suspension of a permanent employee be conducted by a

    Commission on Professional Competence, as specified, and provides

    that the decision of the commission is deemed to be the final

    decision of the governing board of a school district. Existing law

    prohibits testimony from being given and evidence from being

    introduced relating to matters that occurred more than 4 years prior

    to the filing of the notice, and prohibits a decision relating to the

    dismissal or suspension of an employee from being made based on

    charges or evidence relating to matters that occurred more than 4

    years before the filing of the notice of charges for the dismissal or

    suspension of the employee.

    This bill would require the Commission on Professional

    Competence , for hearings on the dismissal or suspension of

    a permanent employee that involve certain sex offenses, controlled

    substance offenses, or child abuse offenses, as specified,

    to consist of require these hearings to be conducted

    solely by an administrative law judge of the Office of

    Administrative Hearings and would provide that the decision of the

    commission administrative law judge

    related to these specified offenses would be advisory in

    nature to the governing board , and require the final

    decision reg arding the discipline of the employee to be

    determined by action of the governing board of the school district,

    as specified . The bill would require the governing board,

    before making its final determination, to allow the

    employee to submit a written statement or response or, at the

    election of the governing board, an oral statement concerning the

    disciplinary action, and would require the governing board's final

    determination to be subject to review and appeal, as specified. The

    bill also would exempt hearings that involve these specified

    offenses from the prohibition on giving testimony and introducing

    evidence relating to matters that occurred more than 4 years before

    the date of the filing of the notice, and would, for hearings that

    involve the specified offenses, permit a decision relating to the

    dismissal or suspension of an employee to be made based on charges or

    evidence related to matters occurring more than 4 years before the

    date of the filing of the notice of charges for the dismissal or

    suspension of the employee.

    (6)

    (5) This bill also would make nonsubstnative

    nonsubstantive and conforming changes to these

    provisions.

    (7)

    (6) The California Constitution requires the state to

    reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs

    mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for

    making that reimbursement.

    This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates

    determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state,

    reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these

    statutory provisions.

    Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.

    State-mandated local program: yes.

     

    THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

    SECTION 1. Section 44936 of the Education Code is amended to read:

    44936. (a) The notice of dismissal or

    suspension in a proceeding initiated pursuant to Section 44934 shall

    not be given between May 15 and September 15 , except in

    proceedings where the charges involve any offense as defined in

    Sections 44010 and 44011 of this code, and Sections 11165.2 to

    11165.6, inclusive, of the Penal Code . The notice shall be

    in writing and be served upon the employee personally or by United

    States registered mail addressed to him or her at the employee's last

    known address. A copy of the charges filed, containing the

    information required by Section 11503 of the Government Code,

    together with a copy of the provisions of this article, shall be

    attached to the notice.

    (b) The notice of dismissal or suspension in a proceeding

    initiated pursuant to charges described in Section 44939 may be given

    at any time during the calendar year. This subdivision is intended

    to codify the holding of Board of Education v. Commission on

    Professional Competence (1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 664.

    SEC. 2. Section 44938 of the Education Code is

    amended to read:

    44938. (a) The governing board of a school district shall not act

    upon any charges of unsatisfactory

    performance unless it acts in accordance with the provisions of

    paragraph (1) or (2):

    (1) At least 90 calendar days before the date of the filing, the

    governing board or its authorized representative has given the

    employee against whom the charge is filed written notice of the

    unsatisfactory performance specifying the nature thereof with such

    specific instances of behavior and with such particularity as to

    furnish the employee an opportunity to correct his or her faults and

    overcome the grounds for the charge. The written notice shall include

    the evaluation made pursuant to Article 11 (commencing with Section

    44660) of Chapter 3, if applicable to the employee.

    (2) The governing board may act during the time period composed of

    the last one-fourth of the schooldays it has scheduled for purposes

    of computing apportionments in any fiscal year if, before the

    beginning of that time period, the governing board or its authorized

    representative has given the employee against whom the charge is

    filed written notice of the unsatisfactory performance specifying the

    nature thereof with such specific instances of behavior and with

    such particularity as to furnish the employee an opportunity to

    correct his or her faults and overcome the grounds for the charge.

    The written notice shall include the evaluation made pursuant to

    Article 11 (commencing with Section 44660) of Chapter 3, if

    applicable to the employee.

    (b) "Unsatisfactory performance" as used in this section means,

    and refers only to, the unsatisfactory performance particularly

    specified as a cause for dismissal in Section 44932 and does not

    include any other cause for dismissal specified in Section 44932.

    SEC. 3. SEC. 2. Section 44939 of the

    Education Code is amended to read:

    44939. (a) Upon the filing of written charges, duly signed and

    verified by the person filing them with the governing board of a

    school district, or upon a written statement of charges formulated by

    the governing board, charging a permanent employee of the district

    with immoral or unprofessional conduct

    serious or egregious unprofessional conduct, immoral conduct ,

    conviction of a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude,

    with incompetency due to mental disability, with willful refusal to

    perform regular assignments without reasonable cause, as prescribed

    by reasonable rules and regulations of the employing school district,

    with violation of Section 51530, with knowing membership by the

    employee in the Communist Party or with violation of any provision in

    Sections 7001 to 7007, inclusive, the governing board may, if it

    deems such action necessary, immediately suspend the employee from

    his or her duties and give notice to the employee of his or her

    suspension, and that 30 days after service of the notice, the

    employee will be dismissed, unless he or she demands a hearing.

    (b) If the permanent employee is suspended upon charges of knowing

    membership by the employee in the Communist Party or for violation

    of Section 7001, 7002, 7003, 7006, 7007, or 51530, the employee may

    within 10 days after service upon him or her of notice of such

    suspension file with the governing board a verified denial, in

    writing, of the charges. In such event the permanent employee who

    demands a hearing within the 30-day period shall continue to be paid

    his or her regular salary during the period of suspension and until

    the entry of the decision of the Commission on Professional

    Competence, if and during such time as the employee furnishes to the

    school district a suitable bond, or other security acceptable to the

    governing board, as a guarantee that the employee will repay to the

    school district the amount of salary so paid to him or her during the

    period of suspension in case the decision of the Commission on

    Professional Competence is that the employee shall be dismissed. If

    it is determined that the employee may not be dismissed, the school

    board shall reimburse the employee for the cost of the bond.

    SEC. 4. SEC. 3. Section 44940 of the

    Education Code is amended to read:

    44940. (a) For purposes of this section, "charged with a

    mandatory leave of absence offense" is defined to mean charged by

    complaint, information, or indictment filed in a court of competent

    jurisdiction with the commission of a sex offense as defined in

    Section 44010, or with the commission of an offense involving aiding

    or abetting the unlawful sale, use, or exchange to minors of

    controlled substances listed in Schedule I, II, or III, as contained

    in Sections 11054, 11055, and 11056 of the Health and Safety Code.

    (b) For purposes of this section, "charged with an optional leave

    of absence offense" is defined to mean a charge by complaint,

    information, or indictment filed in a court of competent jurisdiction

    with the commission of a controlled substance offense as defined in

    Section 44011 or 87011, or a violation or attempted violation of

    Section 187 of the Penal Code, Sections 11357 to 11361, inclusive, or

    Section 11363, 11364, or 11370.1 of the Health and Safety Code,

    insofar as these sections relate to controlled substances.

    (c) For purposes of this section and Section 44940.5, the term

    "school district" includes county offices of education.

    (d) (1) If a certificated employee of a school district is charged

    with a mandatory leave of absence offense, as defined in subdivision

    (a), upon being informed that a charge has been filed, the governing

    board of the school district shall immediately place the employee on

    compulsory leave of absence. The duration of the leave of absence

    shall be until a time not more than 10 days after the date of entry

    of the judgment in the proceedings. No later than 10 days after

    receipt of the complaint, information, or indictment described by

    subdivision (a), the school district shall forward a copy to the

    Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

    (2) Upon receiving a copy of a complaint, information, or

    indictment described in subdivision (a) and forwarded by the school

    district, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing shall automatically

    suspend the employee's teaching or service credential. The duration

    of the suspension shall be until a time not more than 10 days after

    the date of entry of the judgment in the proceedings.

    (e) (1) If a certificated employee of a school district is charged

    with an optional leave of absence offense, as defined in subdivision

    (b), the governing board of the school district may immediately

    place the employee on compulsory leave in accordance with the

    procedure in this section and Section 44940.5. If a certificated

    employee is charged with an offense deemed to fall into both the

    mandatory and the optional leave of absence categories, as defined in

    subdivisions (a) and (b), that offense shall be treated as a

    mandatory leave of absence offense for purposes of this section. No

    later than 10 days after receipt of the complaint, information, or

    indictment described by subdivision (a), the school district shall

    forward a copy to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

    (2) Upon receiving a copy of a complaint, information, or

    indictment described in subdivision (a) and forwarded by the school

    district, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing shall automatically

    suspend the employee's teaching or service credential. The duration

    of the suspension shall be until a time not more than 10 days after

    the date of entry of the judgment in the proceedings.

    SEC. 5. SEC. 4. Section 44944 of the

    Education Code is amended to read:

    44944. (a) (1) In a dismissal or suspension proceeding initiated

    pursuant to Section 44934, if a hearing is requested by the employee,

    the hearing shall be commenced within 60 days from the date of the

    employee's demand for a hearing. The hearing shall be initiated,

    conducted, and a decision made in accordance with Chapter 5

    (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of

    the Government Code. However, the hearing date shall be established

    after consultation with the employee and the governing board, or

    their representatives, and the Commission on Professional Competence

    shall have all of the power granted to an agency in that chapter,

    except that the right of discovery of the parties shall not be

    limited to those matters set forth in Section 11507.6 of the

    Government Code but shall include the rights and duties of any party

    in a civil action brought in a superior court under Title 4

    (commencing with Section 2016.010) of Part 4 of the Code of Civil

    Procedure. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, and except

    for the taking of oral depositions, no discovery shall occur later

    than 30 calendar days after the employee is served with a copy of the

    accusation pursuant to Section 11505 of the Government Code. In all

    cases, discovery shall be completed prior to seven calendar days

    before the date upon which the hearing commences. If any continuance

    is granted pursuant to Section 11524 of the Government Code, the time

    limitation for commencement of the hearing as provided in this

    subdivision shall be extended for a period of time equal to the

    continuance. However, the extension shall not include that period of

    time attributable to an unlawful refusal by either party to allow the

    discovery provided for in this section.

    (2) If the right of discovery granted under paragraph (1) is

    denied by either the employee or the governing board, all of the

    remedies in Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) of Title 4

    of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure shall be available to the

    party seeking discovery and the court of proper jurisdiction, to

    entertain his or her motion, shall be the superior court of the

    county in which the hearing will be held.

    (3) The time periods in this section and of Chapter 5 (commencing

    with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the

    Government Code and of Title 4 (commencing with Section 2016.010) of

    Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure shall not be applied so as to

    deny discovery in a hearing conducted pursuant to this section.

    (4) The superior court of the county in which the hearing will be

    held may, upon motion of the party seeking discovery, suspend the

    hearing so as to comply with the requirement of the

    preceding paragraph (3) .

    (5) (A) A witness shall not be permitted to testify at the hearing

    except upon oath or affirmation.

    (B) Except for hearings that involve any offense as defined in

    Sections 44010 and 44011 of this code, and Sections 11165.2 to

    11165.6, inclusive, of the Penal Code:

    (i) Testimony shall not be given or evidence introduced relating

    to matters that occurred more than four years before the date of the

    filing of the notice.

    (ii) Evidence of records regularly kept by the governing board

    concerning the employee may be introduced, but no decision relating

    to the dismissal or suspension of an employee shall be made based on

    charges or evidence of any nature relating to matters occurring more

    than four years before the filing of the notice.

    (b) The hearing provided for in this section shall be conducted

    by a Commission on Professional Competence as

    follows:

    (1) The Commission on Professional Competence shall

    consist of an administrative law judge of the Office of

    Administrative Hearings for a A hearing that

    involves any offense as defined in Sections 44010 and 44011 of this

    code, and Sections 11165.2 to 11165.6, inclusive, of the Penal Code

    shall be conducted solely by an administrative law judge of the

    Office of Administrative Hearings .

    (2) The Commission on Professional Competence shall be

    comprised as follows for hearings Hearings not

    specified in paragraph (1) shall be conducted by the Commission

    on Professional Competence, which shall be comprised as follows

    :

    (A) One member of the commission shall be selected by the

    employee, one member shall be selected by the governing board, and

    one member shall be an administrative law judge of the Office of

    Administrative Hearings who shall be chairperson and a voting member

    of the commission and shall be responsible for assuring that the

    legal rights of the parties are protected at the hearing. If either

    the governing board or the employee for any reason fails to select a

    commission member at least seven calendar days before the date of the

    hearing, the failure shall constitute a waiver of the right to

    selection, and the county board of education or its specific designee

    shall immediately make the selection. If the county board of

    education is also the governing board of the school district or has

    by statute been granted the powers of a governing board, the

    selection shall be made by the Superintendent, who shall be

    reimbursed by the school district for all costs incident to the

    selection.

    (B) The member selected by the governing board and the member

    selected by the employee shall not be related to the employee and

    shall not be employees of the district initiating the dismissal or

    suspension and shall hold a currently valid credential and have at

    least five years' experience within the past 10 years in the

    discipline of the employee.

    (c) (1) The decision of the Commission on Professional Competence

    with regard to a hearing conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of

    subdivision (b) shall be made by a majority vote, and the

    commission shall prepare a written decision containing findings of

    fact, determinations of issues, and a disposition that shall be,

    solely, one of the following:

    (A) That the employee should be dismissed.

    (B) That the employee should be suspended for a specific period of

    time without pay.

    (C) That the employee should not be dismissed or suspended.

    (2) The decision of the Commission on Professional

    Competence commission with regard to a hearing

    conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) that the

    employee should not be dismissed or suspended shall not be based on

    nonsubstantive procedural errors committed by the school district or

    governing board unless the errors are prejudicial errors.

    (3) The commission shall not have the power to dispose of the

    charge of dismissal by imposing probation or other alternative

    sanctions. The imposition of suspension pursuant to subparagraph (B)

    of paragraph (1) shall be available only in a suspension proceeding

    authorized pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 44932 or Section

    44933.

    (4) (A) The decision of the

    Commission on Professional Competence commission with

    regard to a hearing conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of

    subdivision (b) shall be deemed to be the final decision of the

    governing board. However, the

    (B) The decision of the

    Commission on Professional Competence administrative

    law judge with regard to a hearing conducted pursuant to paragraph

    (1) of subdivision (b) shall be deemed to be advisory

    in nature to advisory, and the final decision

    regarding the discipline of the employee shall be determined by

    action of the governing board with respect to hearings

    that involve any offense as defined in Sections 44010 and 44011 of

    this code, and Sections 11165.2 to 11165.6, inclusive, of the Penal

    Code of the school district. None of the findings,

    recommendations, or determinations contained in the proposed decision

    of the administrative law judge shall be binding on the

    governing board. The governing board shall, before making its final

    determination, allow the employee to submit a written statement or

    response or, at the election of the governing board, an oral

    statement concerning the disciplinary action. The governing board's

    final determination shall be subject to review and appeal pursuant to

    Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure .

    (5) The governing board may adopt from time to time rules and

    procedures not inconsistent with this section as may be necessary to

    effectuate this section.

    (6) The governing board and the employee shall have the right to

    be represented by counsel.

    (d) (1) If the member selected by the governing board or the

    member selected by the employee is employed by a school district in

    this state, the member shall, during service on a Commission on

    Professional Competence, continue to receive salary, fringe benefits,

    accumulated sick leave, and other leaves and benefits from the

    district in which the member is employed, but shall receive no

    additional compensation or honorariums for service on the commission.

    (2) If service on a Commission on Professional Competence

    commission occurs during summer recess or

    vacation periods, the member shall receive compensation proportionate

    to that received during the current or immediately preceding

    contract period from the member's employing district, whichever

    amount is greater.

    (e) (1) If the Commission on Professional Competence determines

    in a hearing conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision

    (b) that the employee should be dismissed or suspended, the

    governing board and the employee shall share equally the expenses of

    the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge. The

    state shall pay any costs incurred under paragraph (2) of subdivision

    (d), the reasonable expenses, as determined by the administrative

    law judge, of the member selected by the governing board and the

    member selected by the employee, including, but not limited to,

    payments or obligations incurred for travel, meals, and lodging, and

    the cost of the substitute or substitutes, if any, for the member

    selected by the governing board and the member selected by the

    employee. The Controller shall pay all claims submitted pursuant to

    this paragraph from the General Fund, and may prescribe reasonable

    rules, regulations, and forms for the submission of the claims. The

    employee and the governing board shall pay their own attorney's fees.

    (2) If the Commission on Professional Competence

    commission determines in a hearing

    conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) that the

    employee should not be dismissed or suspended, the governing board

    shall pay the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the

    administrative law judge, any costs incurred under paragraph (2) of

    subdivision (d), the reasonable expenses, as determined by the

    administrative law judge, of the member selected by the governing

    board and the member selected by the employee, including, but not

    limited to, payments or obligations incurred for travel, meals, and

    lodging, the cost of the substitute or substitutes, if any, for the

    member selected by the governing board and the member selected by the

    employee, and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the employee.

    (3) As used in this section, "reasonable expenses" shall not be

    deemed "compensation" within the meaning of subdivision (d).

    (4) If either the governing board or the employee petitions a

    court of competent jurisdiction for review of the decision of the

    commission, the payment of expenses to members of the commission

    required by this subdivision shall not be stayed.

    (5) (A) If the decision of the commission in a hearing

    conducted pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) is

    finally reversed or vacated by a court of competent jurisdiction,

    either the state, having paid the commission members' expenses, shall

    be entitled to reimbursement from the governing board for those

    expenses, or the governing board, having paid the expenses, shall be

    entitled to reimbursement from the state.

    (B) Additionally, either the employee, having paid a portion of

    the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative

    law judge, shall be entitled to reimbursement from the governing

    board for the expenses, or the governing board, having paid its

    portion and the employee's portion of the expenses of the hearing,

    including the cost of the administrative law judge, shall be entitled

    to reimbursement from the employee for that portion of the expenses.

    (f) The hearing provided for in this section

    paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) shall be conducted in a

    place selected by agreement among the members of the commission. In

    the absence of agreement, and for hearings conducted pursuant to

    paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), the place shall be selected by the

    administrative law judge.

    SEC. 6. SEC. 5. If the Commission on

    State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by

    the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for

    those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section

    17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.