BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 1105
                                                                  Page  1

           Date of Hearing:   June 18, 2008

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                 Gene Mullin, Chair
                     SB 1105 (Margett) - As Amended:  May 8, 2008

           SENATE VOTE  :   40-0
           
          SUBJECT  :   Teacher credentialing: criminal convictions.

           SUMMARY  :   Expands the definition of "conviction" when applied  
          to suspending or revoking educator credentials to include pleas  
          of no contest; and, allows the Commission on Teacher  
          Credentialing (CTC) to make adverse action findings available to  
          school districts for hiring purposes for five years.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Expands the definition of "conviction" for purposes of  
            suspending or revoking a credential to include conviction  
            following a plea of nolo contendere to specified offenses,  
            including certain sex offenses and serious misdemeanors. 

          2)Increases from one year to five years the time period within  
            which the CTC may make adverse action findings available to  
            school districts for hiring purposes without the credential  
            holder's written approval.  

          3)Authorizes a credential holder whose credential has not been  
            revoked as a result of a misdemeanor sex offense that does not  
            require registration as a sex offender, to apply for  
            reinstatement of the credential if the accusation has been  
            dismissed and the individual has been released from all  
            penalties, as specified.

          4)Deletes provisions requiring a discretionary review when there  
            is a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere.  

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Requires the CTC to immediately suspend a credential when the  
            holder has been charged with certain sex or controlled  
            substance offenses and to revoke the credential upon  
            conviction, except in the case of a no contest conviction to a  
            misdemeanor sex offense where the credential is suspended  
            until an administrative review has been completed by the  








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            Commission.  Education code 44425

          2)Requires the CTC to revoke a credential when the holder has  
            been convicted of certain sex offenses or controlled substance  
            offenses and prohibits reinstatement of the credential for  
            certain felony offenses.  Education code 44424

          3)Establishes the Committee of Credentials for the purpose of  
            reviewing allegations that may be grounds for the denial,  
            suspension, revocation of a teaching or services credential  
            issued by the CTC.  Education code 44240



          4)Prohibits the CTC from making adverse action findings  
            available to employing school districts beyond one year from  
            the date the Committee of Credentials makes its  
            recommendations regarding those findings to the CTC, without  
            written approval by the credential holder.  Education code  
            44242.5

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   According to the Senate Education Committee,  
          this bill results in modest savings by eliminating the need for  
          criminal record reviews that follow "no contest" pleas.   
          According to the CTC, removing the one-year disclosure  
          limitation will result in minor but absorbable costs.

           COMMENTS  :   A recent Associated Press (AP) study found that  
          roughly 25% of all disciplinary actions against teachers involve  
          sexual misconduct.  In a study of all 50 states and the District  
          of Columbia, the AP found 2,570 educators nationwide whose  
          teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered, or  
          sanctioned following allegations of sexual misconduct.  The  
          study revealed that between 2001 and 2005, 313 California  
          educators had their credential suspended or revoked for sexual  
          misconduct.  The study noted that while California law requires  
          educators who plead guilty to, or are convicted of, specified  
          sex, controlled substance, and violent felony offenses lose  
          their credential, existing law allows educators who are  
          convicted following a plea of "no contest" to those same crimes  
          to undergo a discretionary review by the CTC to determine  
          disposition of their credential instead of losing their  
          credential automatically.

          The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is the sponsor of the  








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          bill and argues, "Most licensing agencies currently treat 'no  
          contest' pleas as guilty pleas.  Under the Education code,  
          statutes dealing with employment treat 'no contest' pleas as  
          guilty pleas, while the licensing statutes do not, thus creating  
          an inconsistency.  Under current law if a credential holder  
          pleads guilty or is found guilty of certain misdemeanor offenses  
          the credential is revoked on a mandatory basis.  However, if the  
          credential holder pleads 'no contest' to the same offense, the  
          credential is subject to a discretionary review by the Committee  
          of Credentials and an Administrative Law Judge, a process which  
          is time consuming and costly.  During this time, the credential  
          holder retains the credential."

          According to the CTC staff, of the approximately 90 educators  
          who are convicted of a mandatory offense each fiscal year in  
          California, approximately 60 of those are convicted following a  
          plea of no contest to a misdemeanor offense, which triggers a  
          discretionary review by the Committee of Credentials rather than  
          a mandatory revocation.  Approximately 25% of those cases end in  
          a result that allows the educator to maintain a credential and  
          continue to serve in the public schools.  According to CTC  
          staff, the passage of time and the reluctance of child victims  
          to testify can lead to difficulty in providing sufficient  
          admissible evidence to sustain a revocation if the holder  
          appeals the revocation to an Administrative Law Judge.  If the  
          CTC cannot demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence the need  
          to revoke the credential, the holder's credential may be  
          reinstated, allowing the educator to return to service in the  
          public schools.  By expanding the definition of conviction to  
          include "no contest" convictions this bill makes statutes  
          governing employment and credentialing more consistent.

           Mandatory Offenses and Discretionary Review  .  Several sections  
          of the Education code currently deal with criminal offenses  
          requiring revocation of teaching credentials.  Section 44424 of  
          the Education code lists specific felonies and misdemeanors and  
          violent/serious felonies.  Section 44010 of the Education code  
          lists specified sex offenses and Section 44011 lists controlled  
          substance offenses.  Under current law a conviction of any of  
          the felonies listed in Section 44424 results in a mandatory  
          revocation.  In some cases such as theft crimes, the Legislature  
          has specifically limited the revocation to felony thefts.  In  
          others, such as child endangerment, the Legislature has included  
          both misdemeanors and felonies. 









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          Offenses that do not require mandatory revocation of teaching  
          credentials receive a discretionary review by the Commission on  
          Teacher Credentialing and action is taken by the Committee of  
          Credentials (COC) based on the facts and circumstances of the  
          case.  According to the CTC, the discretionary review process  
          begins with a review by the CTC staff, followed by a review of  
          the COC.  After the first review by the COC, the committee may  
          decide to end the review process or move the case forward for a  
          formal review by the committee.  At the formal review by the  
          committee, the credential holder may appear and present their  
          case.  After the formal review, the committee may issue a  
          decision for disciplinary action for the credential holder and  
          the person has 30 days to accept the discipline or request an  
          Administrative hearing by an independent Administrative Law  
          Judge.  After the Judge makes a decision, the Committee of  
          Credentials can either accept that decision or reject the  
          decision and impose the committee's disciplinary action.

                   California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
                Actions Taken on Sexual Offenses Involving Children 
                                      2002-2007
                                          
                    --------------------------------------------- 
                   |  Fiscal   |   Mandatory     | Discretionary |
                   |   Year    |     Action      |    Review     |
                   |-----------+-----------------+---------------|
                   |  2002-03  |       49        |      35       |
                   |-----------+-----------------+---------------|
                   |  2003-04  |       39        |      27       |
                   |-----------+-----------------+---------------|
                   |  2004-05  |       45        |      16       |
                   |-----------+-----------------+---------------|
                   |  2005-06  |       44        |      17       |
                   |-----------+-----------------+---------------|
                   |  2006-07  |       46        |      23       |
                    --------------------------------------------- 
                * Source: Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

           Employment Disclosure  .  The Department of Justice makes criminal  
          history information available to the CTC and employing school  
          districts upon the submission of fingerprint information at the  
          point of hire.  Current law requires the CTC to provide  
          employing school districts with credential history information  
          and requires the CTC to provide confidential information about  
          the substance of any adverse action findings to employing school  








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          districts for up to one year.  The findings are not subject to  
          public disclosure and can be used for employment purposes only.   
          If more than a year has passed, the employing school district  
          must obtain permission from the credential holder prior to  
          requesting the findings information from the CTC.  Making these  
          findings available to districts for a period of five years will  
          enable districts to have more complete information about  
          educators they are considering hiring.

          According to the CTC, "Under current law, the adverse action  
          findings of the Committee of Credentials can be made available  
          for one year from the date the Committee makes its  
          recommendation to a school district providing the credential  
          holder is employed by the district.  If more than a year has  
          passed a school district must obtain a verified release from the  
          credential holder.  The year barrier can be difficult for  
          employing districts to be aware of potential problems especially  
          in the case of substitute teachers who work in multiple  
          districts.  This measure would expand the one year limitation to  
          five years if the credential holder has not appealed the  
          recommendation of the Committee of Credentials."

           Committee Amendment  : Staff recommends a typographical error be  
          corrected to cite the proper Penal code section as 1203.4, on  
          page 4, line 2 of the bill.

          The Association of California School Administrators supports the  
          bill and argues, "ACSA supports the CTC in its effort to  
          streamline the discipline process and appropriately address  
          potential barriers that impact efficient enforcement.  SB 1105  
          helps resolve state departmental inconsistencies and brings  
          education credentialing into alignment with other licensing  
          agencies and educational employment.  With a clear focus upon  
          the safety of all students and schools, as well as proper  
          protection of the educator's rights and privileges, ACSA  
          supports SB 1105."

          The California Teacher's Association, the American Civil  
          Liberties Union, and Equality California oppose the bill and  
          argue that existing code sections are discriminatory toward  
          teachers of specific genders and sexual orientation, in that  
          some sexual offenses are mandatory reasons for credential  
          revocation while other sexual offenses do not mandate credential  
          revocation and instead required a discretionary review.  They  
          argue, "While we understand that the disparate impact of this  








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          legislation was unintended we are concerned about further  
          exacerbating the discriminatory treatment of gay teachers." 

          To the extent this inequity exists, more teachers of specific  
          genders and sexual orientation may lose their credential by  
          pleading no contest, rather than go through a discretionary  
          review by the CTC.  While this issue of discrimination warrants  
          a discussion by the Legislature, this issue is outside the scope  
          of this bill.  Committee staff recommends this issue of  
          discrimination be explored and addressed in future legislation.

           Related Legislation:   SB 1110 (Scott) from 2008 requires the CTC  
          to suspend an educator's California credential when it receives  
          notice that the educator's credentials have been revoked by  
          another state and requires the suspension to remain in effect  
          until the CTC takes final action on the California credential.   
          In addition, SB 1110 requires the CTC to revoke credentials of  
          educators convicted of crimes that result in limited or  
          prohibited contact with children and prohibits reinstatement of  
          the credential until the terms of the criminal probation are  
          satisfied.  The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly  
          Education Committee on June 18, 2008.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :
           Support 
           Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Sponsor)
          Association of California School Administrators
          California District Attorneys Association
          California School Boards Association
          Los Angeles County Office of Education
          Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
          Saddleback Valley Unified School District
          San Francisco Unified School District
           
            Opposition 
           American Civil Liberties Union
          California Teachers Association 
          Equality California

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chelsea Kelley / ED. / (916) 319-2087