The child abuse scandal in the Los Angeles Unified School District has angered many parents and left students heartbroken. And now there’s another issue brewing: pension payments for teachers accused of misconduct.
A California public school teacher convicted of a felony can lose their health benefits, but they can still collect their taxpayer-supported pension.
"They need to be fired, they need to not receive retirement, they don’t need to get a pay," one parent said at an LAUSD board meeting Tuesday morning.
It is extremely difficult to fire a teacher in California because of extensive regulations and appeals. As is the case with former teacher and accused child molester Mark Berndt, accused teachers can continue to collect pay, benefits and retirement.
"Mr. Berndt lawyered up and went through this appeals process. It’s a joke because there are so many different appeals and arbitrations they can go through," said former teacher and now president of the California Teacher Empowerment Network.
"Seven years ago, there were seven teachers that the district tried to get rid of. It took years and years. It cost $3.5 million dollars and they could only get rid of four of them."
One appeal board with ultimate authority over the district’s attempt to fire a teacher is the little known Commissions on Professional Competence. It is made up of an administrative law judge, an educator appointed by the district and another educator appointed by the teacher being fired.
According to a 2009 investigation by the Los Angeles Times, such panels have overturned more than half of the district’s teacher terminations.
A bill in the California state legislative last year, that would have withheld pensions from state workers guilty of felonies, never made it out of committee.