Teachers in California have mixed reactions on the currently vetoed bill AB 375, which was recognized by concerned parents as protection of teachers accused of pedophilia. According to Gov. Jerry Brown, AB 375 needs more work.
The mixed reactions come from a previous bill, touted as too draconian, however, SB 1530 was favored by parents because of the mandatory dismissal of teachers accused of sexual abuse involving children, drug abuse involving children, and violence towards children. Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles was responsible for writing and pushing SB 1530 through, though it was later pushed back by Assembly member Joan Buchanan.
AB 375 was written to “streamline” the dismissal process of teachers involved in egregious offenses. The problem with such a bill lies in the hurried process that involves the prohibition of prior discovery of the accused in cases older than four years, which is not conducive to a fair case.
Restrictions on the number of witnesses for depositions was another issue that is telling of how protective such a bill is for the accused. Of course, the restricted number of witnesses means that the curtailment of potential witnesses changes the seriousness of the case. It mitigates the actions of the accused and cuts out witnesses who could add more details.
Another reason AB 375 was written was to protect teachers from being interrupted while on vacation to give responses in cases of sexual abuse of minors on school grounds. Critics are confounded by such an issue as the priority in the AB 375 seemed to always veer from the children’s well-being.
With the obvious flaws of the vetoed bill, one might ask why was it even considered? Though there are points to the bill that revealed implementing shorter deadlines to reduce costs of a lengthy process. However, because of due process, such an implementation would have undoubtedly marred the procedures in efforts to meet deadlines, which would allow abuse cases to fall through the cracks.
Those against the vetoed AB 375 Bill mention the implications of political special interests in California rearing its ugly head.
The case of the Miramonte Elementary School staff, which was supposedly fired for the sexual misconduct scandal in 2011, comes to mind when an effective safeguard for minors in the school system fails for the umpteenth time. In the Miramonte Elementary case, a teacher by last name, Berndt, was allegedly molesting children ages 6 to 10 years of age and had been cited by police for almost 40 pictures of sexual acts he had committed on children. As if this was not enough, parents received another blow from the school as such information was withheld from parents for more than a year.
The current safeguards against sexual abuse the school system are not working for the children who have been entrusted in a teacher’s care. The AB 375 Bill was just another safeguard for the abuser and not the abused. For concerned parents and teachers of California, the bill protecting pedophiles was finally vetoed, which will hopefully speak to the reforms of bills written with the abused in mind.
Written by: Dianna Coudriet