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Firing of certain temporary teachers in CA

Discussion in 'Education Law, School System' started by jlaw, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi,

    As a parent with absolutely no law knowledge or experience, I see 2 laws in the CA Ed Code that appear to apply to teachers that are hired to replace full-time teachers on long-term leave, and would like to know which one applies and why:

    CA Ed Code 44920 says:
    “... district may employ as a teacher ... not less than one semester during a school year ... any person holding appropriate certification documents, and may classify such person as a temporary employee. The employment ... shall be ... because a certificated employee has been granted leave for a semester or year, or is experiencing long-term illness ...”

    But, CA Ed Code 44954 says:
    “... districts ... may release temporary employees ... prior to serving ... at least 75 percent of the number of days” in a school year.

    Both laws appear to apply to temporary teachers replacing full-time teachers on long-term leave, but one says they must be hired for at least 1 semester and the other says they can be let go at any time before 75% of the year.

    Which one applies and why? Or, if there is a simple reason one of these laws takes precedent or supersedes the other, please let me know.

    Thank you!
     
  2. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    I can see why the two laws would confuse you but one is for hiring teachers and the other is pretty much for dismissing them.
     
  3. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It depends.

    Do you have a specific situation in mind? If so, please describe the situation.
     
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  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    44920 applies to "any person holding appropriate certification documents." 44954 applies to persons "requiring certification qualifications."

    Moreover, being fired doesn't necessarily mean the person isn't entitled to continue to be paid.
     
  5. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Both laws appear to address when these teachers can be dismissed.

    Yes: our district reduced a regular full-time teacher position at our school 3 weeks into the year. I thought that full-time teachers had to go through the March 15 lay-off procedure.

    Can you please explain these different types of teachers in layman’s terms? I thought these were the same thing.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    It's not my area of expertise, but I assume the two statutes are talking about folks who have or don't have credentials.

    Is there a real-world fact pattern that gives rise to your inquiry, or is this just a matter of random curiosity?
     
  7. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Both laws are Chapter 4 laws which govern employment of certificated teachers.

    Yes: our district reduced a full-time teacher position at our school this year after 3 weeks of classes. I am researching if this was legal. The teacher was a new hire (least seniority) and was replacing a teacher from another school that was on long-term leave.
     
  8. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yes they can It is right here in the law.

    44954.
    Governing boards of school districts may release temporary employees requiring certification qualifications under the following circumstances:

    (a) At the pleasure of the board prior to serving during one school year at least 75 percent of the number of days the regular schools of the district are maintained.
     
  9. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The other law says they can’t employ them for less than one semester:

    44920.
    ... the governing board of a school district may employ as a teacher, for a complete school year, but not less than one semester during a school year ...
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    My wife is a high school principal, and she is represented by one of the many educator unions.

    When she has a concern of which she is uncertain, she takes it to her immediate superior, a Deputy Superintendent. She sometimes discusses it with an appropriate union official.

    Our elected school board member was her principal, who retired, and was later elected to the school board.

    She also approaches him as a friend and constituent, with things that puzzle her.

    Have you discussed your concerns with YOUR elected school board member?

    Have you spoken to any official of your union?

    Have you (or others) contacted the office of the superintendent for clarity?

    If not, I suggest you reach out to them as you deem necessary.

    You do your cause little good by inquiring of strangers, regarding SPECIFIC concerns, rather than general concerns.
     
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  11. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for all of your suggestions. Many other parents are also involved and doing all of these and more.

    On this forum, I am looking for someone with knowledge of law and can explain how these 2 laws do not contradict each other. It’s probably obvious to everyone here, but I am very naive on how laws work.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    A law could be very clear in its wording. That doesn't mean you can walk up to Mr. Brown or Ms. Green and say, "Law XYZ123 requires you to write your name at 3:30PM every afternoon, do it now."

    Knowing what a law requires, prohibits, or encourages; doesn't mean said law will ever be enforceable without going to court. Even if you go to court, there is no way the government can make Ms. Green or Mr. Brown do anything either doesn't wish to do, or isn't afraid of what the government MIGHT do to them for not obeying the law. we have laws against murder, yet many people continue to murder others. The remedy in that case would be to incarcerate one or both. Bottom line, the thing sometimes never gets done.

    An old 1st Sergeant once schooled a young Lieutenant, "Sir, there is no way you can make anyone do anything. You can only make some people regret they didn't do it, because some won't care even if they're punished."

    Good luck in your quest. I hope you fare better than Captain Ahab and Don Quixote did in theirs!
     
  13. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    I think OP might be missing a whole class of substitute teachers that AREN'T classified as "temporary employees" or "teachers" that have to work at least whole semester. Substitutes don't normally sign the same teaching contract that temp ee or teacher would..... They would normally be the people that fill in for times when the leave is short (or at least not a whole 1/2 year).

    I didnt' look up actual codes, but I don't think you can take two pieces of code without considering the surrounding laws and how they interact with codes not posted.
     
  14. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You are using common sense.

    Plus, no one knows, nor should anyone ever know why the person was terminated.

    The person may have hidden an indiscretion in the past, a felony conviction, failed a drug screening, done something untoward to one of the students, said something inappropriate in class, or simply terminated because of poor job performance.

    You can't make a determination by reading the letter of any law, as regards the outcome of any specific event or interaction.

    There are too many variables when it comes to controversies among human beings to say anything other than we have the right to take disputes among ourselves to court, where no specific outcome is guaranteed.
     
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  15. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    I haven't done a deep dive but this is my wheelhouse (though not in CA). On first impression it appears the first is what allows an already certified teacher to teach out of their area of certification in the event that another teacher is on leave. Not at all uncommon, especially at the secondary level and often necessary to allow certain classes/programs to be offered. Those folks retain all the rights and protections of any other similarly certified/tenured teacher (as a rule).

    The second are your traditional substitute teachers. No tenure. Can be let go when not needed, though it appears there is some protection if they have been in the position for 3/4 of the school year (not uncommon either as it is disruptive to the classroom to have another teacher pop in at the very end of the year when avoidable).

    As far as a "regular" teacher being released, I'd look less at statutory law and more at union agreements and local school board policies. These things are almost always negotiated at the local level rather than in the legislature.
     
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  16. jlaw

    jlaw Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for looking at this, ElleMD.

    I will definitely look into the local agreements. But, CA is “famous” for it’s legislature, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is mostly governed by state laws.

    The first (44920) basically defines “temporary” teachers. I don’t think it allows them to teach outside of their certification, but that is not the case for this teacher anyways.

    The second (44954) describes when “temporary” teachers can be dismissed. This may also include substitute teachers, but this teacher was not a substitute anyways.

    This grade-school teacher signed a contract to teach a grade for a full year. Her position was eliminated after a few weeks of school to save money. Her students were distributed to other teachers. She was hired as classified in CA Ed Code 44920: as a replacement for another teacher on long-term leave. Apparently this is a common practice for CA districts to hire temporary teachers, up to the number of teachers they approve for leave, in order to have budget flexibility: this allows them to fire these teachers without a review.
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You have explained the problem and proffered a common sense, sound explanation.

    Don't doubt yourself, you're quite clever.
     

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