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On The Money: Teacher Misconduct

Government Agency Has Backlog of Up to 12,000 Cases
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By Mike Luery

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new audit released today, finds thousands of cases involving teacher misconduct are hopelessly backlogged, while many of those teachers remain in the classroom.

Auditor Elaine Howle found a 2009 backlog of 12,600 unprocessed reports involving teacher arrests and prosecution at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Howle discovered it took the Commission months – and in some cases even years – to investigate cases involving teachers who have been arrested.

“We’d give them a failing grade,” Howle told CBS 13.

The Commission has a budget of $53 million with 188 positions. Yet the Auditor found “an insufficient number of trained staff, ineffective and inefficient processes, and a lack of an automated system for tracking the division’s (Division of Professional Practices) workload.”

“We have an example in the report about a teacher bringing pornographic materials to a classroom,” Howle told CBS 13. She then added, “Other instances could be drug abuse, it could be a DUI.”

The audit also uncovered long delays in investigating teachers accused of:

*Prostitution

*Distributing obscene material

*Kissing a student

*Making inappropriate sexual comments to female students

Howle noted, “It took them upwards of 80 days on average to open a case,” and in some instances, cases took up to three years to investigate.

CBS 13 tried getting an on camera response from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing – but found no one willing to come out from behind closed doors at the Sacramento headquarters on Capitol Avenue.

Later, the Commission issued this statement to CBS 13 via e-mail:

“We’ve just received the final audit report and are reviewing it in its entirety.

The BSA Brief notes that the Commission agrees with most of the recommendations and emphasizes that it takes its role of enforcing professional discipline seriously while balancing the safety of California school children and the due process rights of educators.

We appreciate the review of our policies and practices and are already moving forward on implementing many of the recommendations. “

–Marilyn Errett

Administrator of the Office of Governmental Relations

CBS 13 also talked to parents to get their reactions to the sloppy record keeping and lack of oversight at the Commission.

 “It does put our children at risk and that’s very concerning for a grandmother as well as a mother,” said Karen Schwartz, a grandmother from North Highlands. 

 “I’m sure you’ve got to protect the rights of the teachers as well.  Sometimes there are false accusations. So you got to do it the right way, but you got to do it,” said Rich Roberts, a parent visiting the Capitol from Marin County.

The audit also uncovered evidence of nepotism at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

“Forty percent of the commission employees who responded to our survey indicated that familial relationships or employee favoritism compromised the commission’s hiring and promotion practices,” Elaine Howle noted.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg requested the audit a year ago after learning about the backlogs.

The next step is likely to include Capitol hearings on the Commission, perhaps later this month.

Send us your story ideas via e-mail to onthemoney@kovr.com. You can also follow On The Money stories in progress via Twitter at  http://twitter.com/mikeluery

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