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LAUSD Wants to Change the Way District Handles Teachers' Disciplinary Files in Wake of Miramonte Scandal

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LAUSD superintendent John Deasy announced that he wants to change the way that the district handles teachers' disciplinary files.

Right now teachers' contracts require the district to toss out anything in their files older than four years old that doesn't result in any discipline. So if a parent makes a serious allegation or a principal includes a warning about a teacher but nothing comes of it, those notes are tossed out or put in an "expired" file after four years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Now that provision is getting a second look in the wake of the sex abuse allegations plaguing the district, especially in the case against Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt. LAUSD's file for Berndt looked fine, even though in the past there were allegations that Berndt had acted inappropriately with students. Those allegations never amounted to any charges, and so they were likely expunged from his file as a result of the district's policy, the district said.

Deasy told the Times he wants to change teachers' contracts: "It is a provision that can compromise our ability to respond to misbehavior that might occur over a long period of time."

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The teachers' union fought for this provision in their contract back in the 1990s, and they won it in exchange for taking a pay cut. A retired union member said that back in the 1990s, teachers were fighting for protection from principals—not to cover child abuse.

"We were looking at things to protect teachers. We went through a really long time when principals did whatever they wanted to teachers," retired union Vice President Becki Robinson told the Times. "We were not talking about child abuse, but other stuff."

UTLA President Warren Fletcher told City News Service that the union has no problem with discussing the issue: "UTLA is always open to discussions at the negotiating table and—as teachers—we are always open to discuss ways to assure children are safe."