California Tightens Law On Teacher Arrests

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California’s law enforcement agencies and teacher credentialing board must notify public and private schools when teachers are arrested on suspicion of certain sex or drug crimes starting January 1, 2004, the Los Angeles Times says. The measure closes loopholes that became apparent when an Orange County teacher-coach was arrested a second time in two years on similar drug charges.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Gray Davis, was proposed by Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher, a former teacher, after the arrest of a longtime high school industrial-arts teacher and former varsity football coach. He was charged with possessing methamphetamine and marijuana, driving under the influence of methamphetamine, and other drug-related offenses. He had been arrested on similar charges the previous year, but school officials didn’t know about it because of competing penal codes.

Most police agencies are required to report the arrests of teachers to local school districts – which under many circumstances can suspend and fire them. In this case, the first arresting agency was the California Highway Patrol, which generally reports teacher arrests only to the state. The state was barred from passing the information to the school district because the teacher entered a deferred plea and agreed to undergo a 32-hour drug program in exchange for dismissal of the charges. Under the new law, the highway patrol and the state teachers credentialing board must notify school officials of any teacher’s arrests on misdemeanor sex or drug possession charges.


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