SB 813 and Teacher Dismissal
In February 1985, PACE convened a group of attorneys representing teacher organizations and school districts. Joining them were education policy experts from legislative and executive offices and from education and private organizations. Our purpose was to explore the effect of Senate Bill 813 on teacher dismissal. SB 813, California's omnibus school reform legislation of 1983, changed the process by which teachers are dismissed for cause.
Senate Education Committee staff had posed the questions: Does SB 813 facilitate the dismissal of teachers? Is there an empirical record demonstrating the effects of the relatively new law? The forum explored the attorneys' experiences with SB 813, their varying interpretations of its provisions, and legal questions or challenges raised as a result. Often in contrast to this practical experience were the policy experts' expectations—differences between what legislators intended to accomplish with these changes and what attorneys knew to be occurring.
By the close of that conversation, we had reached agreement on what SB 813 in fact changed, identified areas of disagreement, contrasted this with legislative intentions, explored school districts' initial experiences with these dismissal provisions, and outlined recommendations to improve information about teacher dismissals and the processes leading to dismissals. Subsequent conversations with key policy experts elaborated legislators' intentions in adopting SB 813's dismissal provisions.
Continuing interest in the content of that morning discussion has encouraged us to publish this summary analysis. In the interim, the California Appeals Court ruled in two cases regarding termination hearing rights of probationary teachers. We included a brief discussion of the court's rulings because they are relevant to a central disagreement addressed by the attorneys. No additional attempt has been made to update the information.