To ensure that the commission is made aware of certificated employees who need to be reviewed to determine whether the employees' teaching credentials should be suspended or revoked, the district should adhere to state requirements for reporting cases to the commission. Further, the district should avoid reporting cases that are not yet required to be reported so that it will not overburden the commission.
The district has updated its reporting protocols to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) as of March 26, 2013. The protocol was expanded in order to maintain a more complete record of CTC reporting and to facilitate data collection in order to enhance summary reporting of reports made to CTC for any given time period. Since the district's February 22, 2013 response to the audit, the district stated it had reported a total of 103 teachers as of the date of this response. The district further stated that these teachers were reported in a timely manner.
The district states that between February 2012 and May 2012 it conducted a comprehensive review of all aspects of the reporting process in order to analyze strengths and weaknesses and make any necessary improvements. According to the district, the review resulted in the development of a reporting system that incorporates a team approach, detailed internal protocols with built-in redundancy, and an enhanced database to track and monitor all aspects of commission reporting.
The district also reports that it has put in place a commission reporting team that has developed detailed internal protocols and procedures that identify reportable cases and the specific responsibilities of each team member. According to the district, each case is reviewed by at least two team members and regular monitoring is conducted by additional team members.
The district states that to ensure that cases are effectively reported and tracked, a new commission reporting component was created within the Employee Relations misconduct database in March 2012. This component tracks initial reports to the commission, follow-up correspondence between the district and the commission related to the initial report, and statutory notification to employees. The district's Human Resources Division plans to conduct internal audits of the reporting process and procedures and make improvements as warranted in order to ensure student safety. (See 2013-406, pp. 61-62)
To ensure that investigations proceed in a timely manner and that the district disciplines employees promptly, the district should increase its oversight of open allegations of employee abuse against students.
It is Los Angeles Unified School District's (the District's) understanding that recognition of the full adoption and implementation of Recommendation 2 was delayed pending review of information regarding the District's efforts to create a team of investigators pursuant to a resolution ("Protect Children and Safeguard Due Process") adopted by the District's Board of Education on April 16, 2013. Attached as Exhibit A is the District's complete response.
We are pleased to inform you that the District's Human Resources Division has, pursuant to and consistent with directions in the above described resolution, developed the new Student Safety Investigation Unit (SSIU) to investigate allegations of employee sexual misconduct only. The SSIU will be solely responsible for investigating alleged employee sexual misconduct. The SSIU consists of an internal investigation team staffed with a Certificated Administrator, Supervising Investigator, Investigators and Electronic Data Analyst. Outside investigation contractors will be used as needed.
Final selections have been made and the SSIU team of investigators immediately will begin investigations.
As of April 16, 2013, the district's board of education (board) passed a resolution directing the superintendent to create a team of professionally trained investigators to take the lead and investigate reports of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct, among other things. A plan to create the team of investigators is due back to the board within 90 days of the date of the resolution.
The district has created an Employee Performance Accountability Office (accountability office) and hired three senior human resources representatives to assist the administration with investigations and the drafting of charges. Additionally, investigators have been hired to review and analyze employee files of those employees who were alleged to have committed misconduct. Further, the accountability office has conducted over 20 training sessions in the last five months covering such topics as employee performance, progressive discipline, conference memos and evaluations, and maintaining a safe school.
The district indicates that the Investigations Unit of its Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides, as needed, expert advice and technical assistance related to non-OIG investigations currently being performed by the five Educational Service Centers (ESCs). Recently, the OIG conducted an investigations workshop for the ESC Operations staff as well as the principals in the ESC. The district stated that the additional support should result in reinforcing capacity of the personnel directly responsible for conducting effective investigations.
The recommendation is not fully implemented until the district creates the team of investigators specified in the resolution passed by the district's Board of Education on April 16, 2013 and the team begins investigating allegations.
The district states that as a component of its recent reorganization, its Human Resources Division has augmented support for investigations and any resulting discipline by assigning additional staff relations personnel to the district's new Educational Service Centers, creating a Certificated Performance Evaluation Support Unit, and more strategically utilizing the previously created Investigations Unit. According to the district, these units have collaborated in designing and conducting intensive training on conducting investigations for school site administrators and operations personnel. The district indicates that various units are collaborating in creating guidelines for administrative investigations of allegations of employee misconduct as well as providing appropriate assistance in conducting investigations related to the investigations. (See 2013-406, p. 62)
To ensure that it does not duplicate efforts and that its information is complete, the district should identify one division to maintain a districtwide tracking mechanism for settlements that includes the total amounts paid and descriptions of the misconduct.
Following the issuance of the recommendation, the district designated the Office of General Counsel (OGC) to maintain a districtwide tracking mechanism for settlements. The district stated that the OGC is on track to complete the settlement tracking system and train all pertinent staff by September 2013. The OGC has augmented its legal practice management software to include additional fields to track the total amount paid including any salary amounts and a description of the misconduct for all settled cases respectively. The district stated that in March 2013 the OGC trained its support staff in its responsibility to maintain settlement data for tracking purposes. The district stated that the trainings are conducted semiannually and on an as needed basis to ensure proper recordkeeping. Information provided from other district offices that pertain to the settlements also are directed to the OGC and incorporated into the tracking mechanism to ensure a central location for all settlement data. The district further stated that information is maintained under the auspices of the Chief Education and Litigation Counsel of the OGC and may be available to the head of the Human Resources departments and other district departments as needed.
Although additional training is expected to occur, all OGC staff that currently work on teacher dismissals have received training.
The district plans to establish a confidential integrated settlement database, which is to be maintained by its Office of General Counsel, as soon as possible to address the concerns outlined in the audit. The district plans to assemble a team, consisting of representatives from various departments, which will be responsible for evaluating the audit findings, determining whether district licensed computer programs can be used to establish the necessary confidential tracking database, or if new programming is required. According to the district, the team will work towards establishing a process and procedure that is streamlined and efficient and provides the district with the means of tracking the total cost of the settlements in employee dismissal actions and a description of the misconduct for which dismissal is sought. (See 2013-406, pp. 62-63)
The Legislature should consider establishing a mechanism to monitor classified employees who have separated from a school district by dismissal, resignation, or settlement during the course of an investigation for misconduct involving students, similar to the oversight provided by the commission for certificated employees. If such a mechanism existed, school districts throughout the State could be notified before hiring these classified employees.
Assembly Bill 375 (Buchanan, 2013), if enacted, would have revised various procedures related to the dismissal or suspension of a permanent employee of a school district, including authorizing a notice of dismissal or suspension to be given at any time of year. The bill would have required, in a dismissal or suspension hearing against a permanent employee for unprofessional conduct or unsatisfactory performance, if a hearing is requested by the employee, that the hearing be commenced within 6 months of the employees request, and be completed by a closing of the record within 7 months from the date of the employees request. The bill was vetoed by the Governor.
Senate Bill 160 (Lara, 2013), if enacted, would require a school district or charter school to notify the State Department of Education when a classified employee is dismissed, suspended, or terminated from employment as a result of misconduct against a child. The bill would require the department, upon request by a school district or charter school, to provide that information only for the purposes of verifying previous employment of a classified employee. The bill would require that information to be kept confidential and would require the department to remove the information upon proof of acquittal or factual innocence.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.