Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy today instructed labor negotiators to push for the removal of a clause from teachers' contracts that allows information about alleged misconduct that does not result in disciplinary action to be removed from personnel files after four years.
Deasy said the clause was included in contracts at the insistence of the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, 20 years ago.
"In the interests of affording greater protections to our students, I have instructed the Los Angeles Unified School District's negotiating team to enter into discussions immediately with the teachers' union to change or eliminate this practice," Deasy said.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said the union has no problem with discussing the issue.
"UTLA is always open to discussions at the negotiating table and -- as teachers -- we are always open to discuss ways to assure children are safe," he said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the clause in teachers' contracts may explain why the district had no record of earlier allegations of misconduct by former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts with children. Berndt allegedly took photos of children with semen-tainted cookies or spoons held to their mouths as part of a "tasting game."
Deasy said that in response to a recent string of allegations, he ordered an investigation into the district's system of reporting alleged misconduct by teachers. He said that probe led to the discovery of the contract clause.