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Audit Critical Of State Agency That Investigates Teacher Misconduct

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - The agency that oversees cases of teacher misconduct in California is rife with flaws that have led to unacceptable delays in revoking the credentials of problem teachers, according to the independent state auditor.

Auditor Elaine Howell told the Sacramento Bee the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is one of the "worst-run" state agencies in California.

Her report cites numerous cases where the commission was slow to follow up on cases where teachers were allowed to teach, or to renew their credentials, despite criminal charges that should have removed them from their jobs.

Education advocates worry Howell's findings questioning the credentialing commissions commitment to ensuring the safety of California school children will lead to a backlash among voters at a time when public schools need all the support they can get.

"It diminishes the level of public support for really getting behind what's going to take to restore basic investment in public education, and we don't want that to happen," said Kevin Gordon, a long-time lobbyist for public school districts.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

Since the report was released in April, state lawmakers have demanded changes in how the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing operates, attention Gordon said is long overdue.

"It's really good that it comes out because it's a problem that's vitally important that it gets addressed, so this kind of inspection by the auditor general is welcome," he said.

Much of the backlog stems from how police departments and court systems handle paperwork, as well as school districts slow to notify the commission about problem teachers.

In one case cited by the independent State Auditor, it took two years to revoke the credential of a teacher who had pleaded guilty to prostitution charges. And in another case, it was 17 months before the commission investigated a teacher accused of exposing middle school students to pornography.

"People will take these rare instances of problems and they paint everybody with the same broad brush. So when you have these incredibly difficult financial times for school districts where they really need the public's help, stories like this don't help," Gordon said.

He notes that the school districts appear to have acted correctly in these cases despite problems at the state level.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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