Bill eases path for firing teachers for misconduct

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state Legislature has passed a bill intended to speed and streamline the process for dismissing teachers accused of misconduct, despite the opinion of some that the measure should be improved, possibly next year.

AB375 by Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo adds homicide charges to the list of offenses that can prompt a teacher's removal. But it removes possession of marijuana and some other drugs from the list of offenses that can trigger immediate removal from the classroom.

The legislation responds to last year's arrest of a Los Angeles elementary school teacher who was charged with 23 counts of engaging in lewd conduct with students. The Los Angeles Unified School District fired Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, but he appealed, and the district opted to pay him $40,000 to drop his challenge. Berndt has pleaded not guilty.

The measure passed the Senate Thursday on a 25-13 vote, then was approved on a final vote in the Assembly, 47-22. It now goes to the governor.