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Legal Resources | Education Code |  EC  44944.1  

Dismissal and Suspension Proceedings; Egregious Misconduct   

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(a) This section shall apply only to dismissal or suspension proceedings initiated pursuant to Section 44934.1.

(b) Once the governing board of the school district has initiated dismissal or suspension proceedings pursuant to Section 44934.1, the process described in this section shall be the exclusive means of pursuing a dismissal or suspension for the acts or events constituting the charge of egregious misconduct, and these specific acts or events shall not be used to support any additional or subsequent notice of suspension or dismissal pursuant to Section 44934. Once the governing board of the school district has initiated dismissal or suspension proceedings pursuant to Section 44934.1, the process described in this section shall be the exclusive means of pursuing a dismissal or suspension against the certificated employee until a written decision has been reached by the administrative law judge pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (e), the charges have been dismissed, or the dismissal or suspension proceeding has been settled or otherwise resolved. If a suspension initiated against an employee pursuant to Section 44934.1 is upheld, and a dismissal was not pursued on the same charges, the entry of judgment of the suspension under Section 44934.1 may be considered as evidence to support a subsequent notice of dismissal based on other charges. If a suspension initiated against an employee pursuant to Section 44934.1 is upheld, but the employee prevailed on the dismissal proceeding based on the same charges, the entry of judgment of the suspension under Section 44934.1 shall not be considered as evidence to support a subsequent notice of dismissal based on other charges.

(c) The hearing provided for in this section shall be initiated and conducted, and a decision made, in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, by an administrative law judge. The administrative law judge conducting the hearing shall have all the powers granted to an agency pursuant to that chapter.

(d) (1) (A) In a dismissal or suspension proceeding initiated pursuant to Section 44934.1, if a hearing is requested by the employee, the hearing shall be commenced within 60 days from the date of the employee's demand for a hearing. The hearing date shall be established after consultation with the employee and the governing board, or their representatives, except that, if the parties are not able to reach agreement on a date, the Office of Administrative Hearings shall unilaterally set a date in compliance with this section. The Office of Administrative Hearings shall prioritize the scheduling of dismissal or suspension proceedings initiated pursuant to Section 44934.1 over other proceedings related to certificated school employees.

(B) The right of discovery of the parties shall not be limited to those matters set forth in Section 11507.6 of the Government Code but shall include the rights and duties of any party in a civil action brought in a superior court under Title 4 (commencing with Section 2016.010) of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, and except for the taking of oral depositions, no discovery shall occur later than 30 calendar days after the employee is served with a copy of the accusation pursuant to Section 11505 of the Government Code. In all cases, discovery shall be completed prior to seven calendar days before the date upon which the hearing commences. If any continuance is granted pursuant to Section 11524 of the Government Code, the time limitation for commencement of the hearing as provided in this subdivision shall be extended for a period of time equal to the continuance. The continuance or continuances granted pursuant to Section 11524 of the Government Code, if any, shall not extend by more than a total of 30 days the deadline set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (d). The extension shall not include that period of time attributable to an unlawful refusal by either party to allow the discovery provided for in this section.

(2) If the right of discovery granted under paragraph (1) is denied by either the employee or the governing board, the exclusive right of a party seeking an order compelling production of discovery shall be pursuant to Section 11507.7 of the Government Code. If a party seeks protection from unreasonable or oppressive discovery demands, the exclusive right of a party seeking an order for protection shall be pursuant to Section 11450.30 of the Government Code.

(3) A witness shall not be permitted to testify at the hearing except upon oath or affirmation. No testimony shall be given or evidence introduced relating to matters that occurred more than four years before the date of the filing of the notice, except evidence of egregious misconduct, as described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 44932, which shall not be excluded based on the passage of time.

(4) Evidence of records regularly kept by the governing board of the school district concerning the employee may be introduced, but no decision relating to the dismissal or suspension of an employee shall be made based on charges or evidence of any nature relating to matters occurring more than four years before the filing of the notice, except evidence of egregious misconduct, as described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 44932, which shall not be excluded based on the passage of time.

(e) (1) The administrative law judge shall prepare a written decision containing findings of fact, determinations of issues, and a disposition that shall be, solely, one of the following:

(A) That the employee should be dismissed.

(B) That the employee should be suspended for a specific period of time without pay.

(C) That the employee should not be dismissed or suspended.

(2) The decision of the administrative law judge that the employee should not be dismissed or suspended shall not be based on nonsubstantive procedural errors committed by the school district or the governing board of the school district unless the errors are prejudicial errors.

(3) The administrative law judge shall not have the power to dispose of the charge of dismissal by imposing probation or other alternative sanctions. The imposition of suspension pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) shall be available only in a suspension proceeding authorized pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 44932 or Section 44933.

(4) The decision of the administrative law judge shall be deemed to be the final decision of the governing board of the school district.

(5) The state board may adopt from time to time rules and procedures not inconsistent with this section as may be necessary to effectuate this section.

(6) The governing board of the school district and the employee shall have the right to be represented by counsel.

(f) (1) If the administrative law judge determines that the employee should be dismissed or suspended, the governing board of the school district and the state shall share equally the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge. The Controller shall pay all claims submitted pursuant to this paragraph from the General Fund, and may prescribe reasonable rules, regulations, and forms for the submission of the claims. The employee and the governing board of the school district shall pay their own attorney's fees.

(2) If the administrative law judge determines that the employee should not be dismissed or suspended, the governing board of the school district shall pay the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge, and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the employee.

(3) If either the governing board of the school district or the employee petitions a court of competent jurisdiction for review of the decision of the administrative law judge, the payment of the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge required by this subdivision, shall not be stayed.

(4) If either the governing board of the school district or the employee petitions a court of competent jurisdiction for review of the decision of the administrative law judge and the decision is upheld, the appellee shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs expended on the appeal.

(5) If the decision of the administrative law judge is reversed or vacated by a court of competent jurisdiction, either the state, having paid one-half of the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge, shall be entitled to reimbursement from the governing board of the school district for those expenses, or the governing board of the school district, having paid one-half of the expenses, shall be entitled to reimbursement from the state. If either the governing board of the school district or the employee petitions a court of competent jurisdiction for review of the decision to overturn the administrative law judge's decision, the payment of the expenses of the hearing, including the cost of the administrative law judge required by this paragraph, shall be stayed until no further appeal is sought, or all appeals are exhausted.

(g) The hearing provided for in this section shall be conducted in a place selected in accordance with Section 11508 of the Government Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 55, Sec. 18.)