The Los Angeles Unified School District will report all teachers accused of misconduct to the state credentialing commission in an effort to keep those who pose a risk to students out of the classroom, Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy said in remarks published today.
Deasy told the Los Angeles Times that he has ordered staff to scour personnel files going back four years and to submit all discipline cases to the state in hopes of uncovering any cases that were not previously reported.
The sweeping action covers hundreds of teachers in the nation's second- largest school district who have been investigated by school officials or police for alleged misconduct ranging from sexual abuse to excessive absenteeism, according to the newspaper.
Deasy announced the new approach a day after The Times reported that a substitute teacher was able to get a job in the Inglewood school system after he resigned from L.A. Unified in 2007 following three sexual-abuse investigations. The LAUSD has no evidence that it informed the credentialing commission about those investigations.
The teacher, George Hernandez, was later accused of sexually assaulting an Inglewood student. He later fled to Mexico, according to relatives,
"I'm horrified," Deasy said of recent revelations about the handling of past abuse allegations.
His effort could trigger new investigations of some instructors by the credentialing commission, according to The Times. Filing the records with the commission is important because school districts rely on the agency to flag problem teachers who apply for jobs in new districts.
Besides the Hernandez case in 2007, the LAUSD has acknowledged that it did not immediately file misconduct records with the state involving Mark Berndt, a former Miramonte Elementary teacher charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against students. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
L.A. Unified should have filed a report on Berndt within 30 days after the Board of Education voted to fire him in February 2011. Instead, the district waited until after Berndt's arrest last month to do so. Berndt did not attempt to work elsewhere.
School districts in California are required to report teachers to the State Commission on Teacher Credentialing when they leave or change jobs as a result of allegations against them. Districts also have the option of reporting any serious concerns about a teacher to the commission.