Report 2016-103 Recommendation 2 Responses
Report 2016-103: Los Angeles Unified School District: It Can Do More to Reduce the Impacts of Removing Teachers From Classrooms Because of Alleged Misconduct (Release Date: October 2016)
Recommendation #2 To: Los Angeles Unified School District
To avoid significant delays in returning reassigned teachers to work, by April 2017 LAUSD should develop written procedures to guide staff in identifying appropriate placement options. These procedures should include time frames by which relevant LAUSD personnel including, but not limited to, Employee Relations and the General Counsel, are to meet with one another to ensure an appropriate and timely placement. In cases in which the teacher has been reassigned for a long time, such as in cases returning from the Hearings office, the procedure should also establish time frames by which LAUSD meets with the teacher to discuss the teacher's placement preferences.
1-Year Agency Response
The audit task force distributes a report internally at least monthly to all those with need to know. The task force follows up with those responsible for making placements and confirms the placements are timely made. The task force has monthly meetings with Operational professionals to review placements. In preparation for this final report, the task force reviewed placements that have occurred since the new procedures were implemented via the July 17, 2017 bulletin and confirmed the timelines were met. The task force will continue these procedures to confirm timely placements are made.
- Completion Date: July 2017
- Response Date: October 2017
California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented
In our evaluation of LAUSD's six-month response regarding the status of this recommendation, we noted that in place of formal procedures for timely meetings to discuss the status of teachers the district had already decided to return to the classroom, LAUSD had proposed to set timelines for placing those teachers and conduct regular reviews of whether administrators were meeting those timelines.
As part of its revised policy issued in July 2017, LAUSD has established a general guideline of five working days between the determination to return a teacher to the classroom and the date on which the teacher actually returns to work. LAUSD provided a written form that is to be completed at the meeting during which that determination is made, and the form requires an estimated return site and date. LAUSD has demonstrated that, going forward, it has the capacity to centrally monitor those return dates and follow up with local administrators to ensure those deadlines are met.
6-Month Agency Response
LAUSD has revised its relevant bulletin BUL-6532.1 entitled "Protocols and Procedures to Report, Reassign and Investigate Allegations of Employee Misconduct," in accordance with the audit findings. The bulletin will be formally issued on July 1, 2017, consistent with LAUSD's practice of issuing revised bulletins for the upcoming fiscal/school year.
A comprehensive three-hour training has been provided to administrators district-wide who supervise employees who have direct contact with students. These groups have included:
- Local District Administrators of Operations (AOOs)
- Operations Coordinators
- Staff Relations personnel
- Assistant Principals
The training was designed to address the contents of the revised bulletin. and covers major topics including:
- Responding to allegations;
- Procedural aspects of the employee reassignment process; and
- Key activities for conducting preliminary inquiries of allegations by the Local District and school site.
Paricipants have had opportunities to apply the information through a primary scenario covered throughout the training session coupled with activity-based discussions.
The Audit Response Task Force is also designing on-line training to all administrators to continue updating or refreshing their knowledge and recertify annually that they have completed the training.
Finally, LAUSD has refined its "case review" process internally. The employee case review meetings include the AAO or Division Head who presents the case, as well as representatives from Employee Relations, the Office of the General Counsel, Student Safety Investigation Team, and Audit Response Task Force. Documentation maintained regarding case review meetings include the roster of attendees (sign-in sheet) and the rationale for the decision to return the employee to work or proceed with dismissal.
- Estimated Completion Date: July 1, 2017
- Response Date: April 2017
California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending
The description of the changes that LAUSD discusses do not address our recommendation which was intended to address significant delays in returning reassigned teachers to work after the decision has been made that the teacher is to be returned. During our audit, LAUSD explained that it needed to hold additional meetings with administrators and in some cases with the teachers before actually returning teachers to work. As a result, we recommended that LAUSD establish time frames for those meetings.
When we followed up with LAUSD about its response, it stated that it no longer sees a need to hold a separate placement meeting after the decision to return the teacher has been made. Instead, LAUSD has proposed to conduct a monthly internal audit of all teachers slated for return to work to identify the timing and location of their subsequent placements. The internal audit would alert responsible LAUSD staff about teachers still in need of placement to help ensure those cases are given priority. LAUSD has not yet developed a formal protocol for this process or provided documentation demonstrating that its internal audit process is occurring.
60-Day Agency Response
Currently, the LAUSD convenes a regular meeting to discuss employee reassignment in cases where reassignment is appropriate. The attendees are those best positioned to ensure the safety of students, as well as the rights of employees, when making the reassignment. The LAUSD's upcoming revised bulletin will emphasize the need for parties to continue to convene in a timely fashion, monitor the length of reassignment cases, and make the most sensible and timely reassignments as appropriate. Sign in sheets and agendas will be retained from each meeting in which an employee reassignment back to the worksite is discussed in order to prove regularity, attendance and matters discussed.
- Estimated Completion Date: March 31, 2017
- Response Date: January 2017
California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending
We have assessed the status of this recommendation as pending until LAUSD completes its planned revisions to its policy bulletin and provides us with that documentation.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.