School districts now have more options for firing teachers who engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with students, says new legislation announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and State Senator Stephen Saland.
Under the current law, outside hearing officers decide on these cases and impose their own penalties—including whether or not a teacher is fired. Districts are then held to what the hearing officers decide.
The reform now says that school districts—and in New York City, the Schools Chancellor—have the final say on what action to take, taking into consideration the hearing officers’ decisions.
“If a school employee is found to have engaged in sexual behavior or made sexual comments towards students, the Chancellor should have the final say on what action to take and the legislation we are proposing would provide that authority,” said Mayor Bloomberg, in a statement. “Every child deserves a safe learning environment and every parent has the right to know that his or her child is safe while at school.”
Principals will now have access to information about any employee who has been disciplined, and a newly formed Disciplinary Support Unit will help make sure that schools take appropriate action after investigators determine employees have engaged in misconduct.