With many new changes to the legal system starting this year, including the passage of AB 420 which makes it more difficult to suspend and expel students, it will now be easier for school employees to be fired for misconduct in comparison to the bureaucratic procedures that have been typically applied to past cases.
Existing law prohibits a permanent school employee from being dismissed from their job, except for causes including immoral or unprofessional conduct, but with the newly signed law, Assembly Bill (AB) 215, the law is extended to additionally include “egregious misconduct” as basis for dismissal.
While teachers may not be fired for just any reason and the law does state that there must be a dismissal process that is both fair and efficient, the reasons extended include unsatisfactory performance and evidence of unfitness for service; unprofessional conduct; dishonesty; persistent violations of refusal to obey governing laws; conviction of a felony of any crime involving immorality and involvements in criminal syndicalism; a physical or mental condition, or substance abuse issue that would cause an employee to be unfit to work with children.
Permanent school employees may be suspended without pay on the grounds of unprofessional conduct; in districts with daily average attendance of less than 250 students, the rule can also be applied to probationary employees.
Prior to AB 215, school boards could immediately suspend, and give notice of dismissal upon filing written charges relating to wrongdoing against school employees; with the passage of AB 215, suspended employees are able to file for a hearing to reverse their suspension.
A school district’s governing board is required to give notice to the school employee charged of wrongdoing with intention to either dismiss or suspend employment, and a written statement of the charges. After 30 days from the notice being served to the employee in question, the designated action would be taken unless a hearing is demanded.
Extending to actions considered “egregious misconduct” authorizes school districts to amend charges prior to 90 days before a hearing, so long as written notice has been served and good cause is shown. Additionally, accused employees have the opportunity to respond to charges alleged against them under the new law.
Additionally, under previous law, school boards were not allowed to give notice of dismissal or suspension to school employees during summer months between May 15 and Sept. 15, but with the passage of the new law, notice may be given at any time.
Essentially, the newly adopted law allows school districts to fire teachers with less bureaucratic red tape standing in the way should they be found guilty of serious wrongdoing.
For more information on the new law, click here.