In December, the Professional Practices Committee – a group that supports the disciplinary work of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the Committee of Credentials – released a report summarizing the number of investigations into teacher misconduct from fiscal year 2006-07 to fiscal year 2010-11.
Last week, 28 local school districts rejected this newspaper’s request for their copies of those documents.
Instead, school districts from across the San Gabriel Valley refused to identify cases of teacher misconduct that resulted in a suspension or revocation of a teaching credential. In several instances attorneys representing school districts claimed the newspaper’s request was too broad. Other attorneys made the claim that name of teachers involved in misconduct were exempt from disclosure.
Freedom of information activist Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said the lack of response from so many school districts was puzzling.
“The only reason to withhold anything at all is if it’s to protect the identity and reputation of the teacher, Scheer said. “They have an obligation to provide you with those forms with identifying information removed.”
Scheer also said school districts may have withheld names because, “they’re afraid they’re going to get sued by the teacher’s union.”
“Is there any legal reason why they shouldn’t do it? None whatsoever,” he said.
At the very least, school districts “have no choice but to give you those forms redacted,” Scheer said.
In its report, which was issued in December, the state committee identified 25,357 cases of misconduct dating back to 2006. Those cases were broken down into seven categories: alcohol, other crimes, serious crimes/felonies, drugs, nonsexual child crime, sexual child crime and adult sexual.
The committee’s report used information that school districts submitted each time they reported a credential holder to be dismissed, suspended or placed on administrative leave, and when a complaint was filed with the district alleging sexual or other acts of misconduct.
Also used were official records from the Department of Justice, law enforcement agencies, state agencies and courts. It also took information reported by the public and from teacher credential applications that included questions related to convictions, employment discipline and pending investigations.
In the 2010-11 fiscal year, 5,400 cases were investigated, including 1,447 related to alcohol; 1,128 serious crimes or felonies; 335 drugs; 254 nonsexual child crime; and 129 sexual crime.
Out of the 5,400 cases, 210 of them were opened after a school district reported the misconduct. And of the 25,000 cases, 1,121 were reported by the school district.
Source : sgvtribune