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Azusa Unified response to teacher misconduct probe

Azusa Unified response to teacher misconduct probe

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Published by: SGVNews on Mar 08, 2012
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Azusa Unified School District
March 2, 2012J. D. VelascoStaff Writer San Gabriel Valley Tribune1210 N. Azusa Canyon RoadWest Covina, CA 91790Re: Records RequestDear Mr. Velasco:The District has received your request for records dated February 24, 2012. You requested:
Access to and copies of the district’s policy on teacher conduct
The district’s policies for reporting and investigating claims of misconduct
The number of complaints received related to teacher misconduct at each school site,relevant dates and status of any investigation into those complaints dating back to the2006-07 school year 
Copies of any forms sent to the state requesting revocation of teacher credentials due tomisconduct dating back to the 2006-07 school year.
Attached are the following Azusa Unified policies, administrative regulations and exhibits: AR 4117.7, AR 4118, BP 4119.21, E 4119.21, BP 1312.1. AR 1312.1 and E 1312.1We seek your assistance in clarifying or narrowing the scope of the remaining requests, asdiscussed further below.Additionally, depending on the eventual scope of your request, the potentially large number of documents in our possession may require the District to search for, collect, and appropriatelyexamine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records to respond to your request.Additionally, due to the nature of some of the requested records, it may be necessary to redactcertain confidential information. In accordance with Government Code section 6253(c), theDistrict requires a 14-day extension to respond to your request because of the need to search for,collect and appropriately analyze records potentially responsive to the categories of documentsrequested. Thus, a further response to your request will be provided on or before March 15,2012.
To the extent the records are exempt or include information that is exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Public Records Act, including but not limited to Government Code sections6254(c) (personnel exception), 6254(a) (preliminary drafts, notes, or intra-agency memorandanot retained by the District in the ordinary course of business), 6254(k) (privileged material,including those within the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine, includingEvidence Code sections 915, 950 et seq., and 1040) and 6255 (catch-all exception), suchinformation will be withheld or redacted, as appropriate. (Government Code section 6253(a).)We will advise you of the basis for withholding any otherwise responsive records.As part of this initial response, we note that some of your requests lack sufficient specificity for us to determine the existence of the records you seek. To assist you in identifying records andinformation that are responsive to your purpose, insofar as those records exist and aredisclosable, we ask your cooperation in clarifying the scope of your remaining requests. Weaddress each request in turn.
The number of complaints received related to teacher misconduct at each schoolsite, relevant dates and status of any investigation into those complaints dating back to the 2006-07 school year
This request does not seek an identifiable public record. The District investigatescomplaints regarding its employees, as appropriate and as required by law and Board policy. However, the District does not maintain statistical records of such complaints ona per-school site basis.Additionally, we are uncertain as to your intended meaning of the phrase “complaintsreceived related to teacher misconduct.” Initially, other than complaints lodged under theUniform Complaint Procedure, which may or may not relate to teacher misconduct, or toteachers at all, there is no generally accepted definition of what constitutes a “complaint.” Not all complaints are submitted in writing, and only written complaints would fallwithin the definition of a “record” under the Public Records Act.Moreover, there is no legal definition of “teacher misconduct,” and even the statecredentialing body recognizes that not every complaint or allegation against a certificatedindividual constitutes an allegation of “misconduct.” Depending on one’s definition of “misconduct,” any determination of the existence or number of complaints receivedagainst District teachers within the time period you specify is extremely uncertain.For example, a variety of professional conduct expectations apply to teachers, includingarriving on time to work each day, timely entering grade information, maintainingcourteous contact with parents, peers, and administrators, and making appropriate use of instructional time. On the other hand, certain types of behavior would likely be per seinstances of “misconduct,” such as physical abuse of a child or being under the influenceof a controlled substance in the workplace. Any instance of a teacher not acting incompliance with expectations--or the perception of such noncompliance by a parent or other observer--could be interpreted as a “complaint of misconduct.”
Therefore, without clarification of these terms, we are unable to respond to your requestfor “the status of any investigation into those complaints.” Please specify an objectivestandard for determining what constitutes a “complaint” and what constitutes “teacher misconduct” in the context of your requests. We enclose for your information a copy of Education Code section 44932, which describe the specific grounds for disciplining ateacher in California, in the hope it may assist you in refining the request to describe“misconduct.”We also ask that you consider the fact that a teacher may not be disciplined for anyconduct that occurred more than four years prior to the teacher’s receipt of a formalnotice of disciplinary action. (Education Code section 44944(a)(5).) Accordingly, thescope of your request, “dating back to the 2006-07 school year,” could result in anextensive and expensive search for dated documents which, if they exist, could notlawfully lead to the discipline of any teacher. We respectfully request that you consider narrowing the scope of your request to a more recent time period, such as the past four years.
Copies of any forms sent to the state requesting revocation of teacher credentialsdue to misconduct dating back to the 2006-07 school year.
The District does not possess any documents responsive to this request. The Districtreports to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) teachers’separation from service as a result of allegations of misconduct, pursuant to Title 5,California Code of Regulations, section 80303 (copy attached). However, the Districtdoes not “request revocation of teacher credentials.” The CTC is responsible for determining whether a teacher’s credential should be subject to disciplinary action suchas suspension or revocation.We also believe these reports, insofar as they exist, may be exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, pursuant to the “personnel” exception of Government Codesection 6254(c). Please note that all investigative processes of the CTC are closed to the public and entirely confidential, until “final action” is taken, pursuant to Education Codesection 44245. In fact, unauthorized disclosure of such information is a misdemeanor.(Education Code section 44248.)Therefore, we will review our files for the existence of any such reports in an effort to provide you with the information requested. However, we will review each situationindividually in light of our obligation to maintain the privacy of certain records, and mayredact the names of the individual teachers involved and of any other persons identifiedin the records, as appropriate.
If you would like to discuss your request in more detail, please contact the AssistantSuperintendent of Human Resources Corey James at 626-858-6189.Sincerely,Kathleen Miller 

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