2013-14 Legislative Session
During the 2013-2014 California legislative session, Students Matter activated a diverse coalition of policy experts, superintendents, school boards, administrators, parents and children’s advocates to oppose a sham teacher dismissal reform bill intended to derail the historic Vergara v. California lawsuit. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill, calling it an “imperfect solution” that “may do more harm than good.”
AB 375 (Buchanan – Teacher Dismissal)
Bill status: Vetoed by the Governor
Students Matter’s position: OPPOSE
According to the California School Boards Association, AB 375, introduced by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan and co-authored by Senator Alex Padilla and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, would have made it “more difficult to dismiss teachers who may be a threat to student safety by: imposing time limits for the commencement and completion of an appeal of a local education agency’s (LEA) decision to dismiss a teacher; adding procedural steps that could be used to delay; and constraining the ability of LEAs to amend charges and depose witnesses to substantiate the charges.”
Shortly after the bill passed the California legislature, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers served motions for summary judgment in Vergara v. California, asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to rule on the case in the State’s and unions’ favor without going to trial. The unions claimed in their motions that AB 375, if signed into law, would render moot Plaintiffs’ challenges to California’s cumbersome, costly and ineffective dismissal process for substantially underperforming and/or abusive teachers. But policy experts, superintendents, school boards, administrators, parents and children’s advocates agreed that AB 375 did not address the current dismissal laws’ major problems and would have made the process for removing sexual predators from the classroom even more difficult.
San Francisco Unified Superintendent Richard Carranza, the Association of California School Administrators, the California School Boards Association, California Democrats for Education Reform, EdVoice, parents around the state, and some of California’s oldest and most respected newspapers urged Gov. Brown to veto AB 375. Students Matter helped to amplify the voices opposing AB 375 via media relations, op-ed placement and advocacy on social media. Even the legislators who voted to pass AB 375 strongly criticized the bill and expressed bewilderment as to why the unions were suddenly supporting such ineffective legislation.