Bill could hasten firing of Alabama teachers charged with sex crimes
MONTGOMERY, Ala. —
Lawmakers pre-filed a bill that would facilitate quicker termination of Alabama teachers who are charged with sex crimes against students.
According to the bill's sponsors, Alabama currently has two conflicting laws that have created a loophole for teachers charged with sex crimes that lets them put off termination hearings and collect paychecks (from taxpayers) in the meantime.
Republican senator Trip Pittman (R- Montrose) pre-filed the bill which will repeal an old statue allowing for paid administrative leave for teachers who charged with sex crimes against students.
“There was actually a case where someone was getting paid on administrative leave, getting paid for two years and it doesn't allow for the termination hearing to proceed under the students first act,” explained Pittman.
Pittman says his bill does protect due process.
“There’s still due process under Students First I sponsored back in 2011,” said Pittman. “What It allows, it allows the termination hearing to be conducted by retired judges in a more expeditious matter, I think 120 days, versus the former federal arbitration process that can drag out for years.”
Pittman explained those hearings require evidence.
The senator says the goal is to keep the good teachers, and stop paying those who don't follow the rules.
“And those who are not doing things properly and in fact breaking the law, don't need to be in the classroom and certainly don't need to be getting paid by the tax payers while they're on administrative leave or even in prison,” said Pittman.
In central Alabama, ABC 33/40 has reported four teachers being arrested this school year on sex charges against students.
The new proposal could help bring those teachers to a termination hearing quicker.
Melissa Williams, an Alabama mother of two, is one parent who supports the proposal.
“I think it's a good idea,” said Williams. “I don't think you should still profit if you did wrong. And I definitely don't think you should still be getting money from anywhere, especially if you've been in jail.”
The legislative session begins January ninth.
He bill has powerful lawmakers supporting it.
Pittman is the Senate Budget Chairman.
One of the bill's sponsors in the House, Representative Terri Collins (R- Decatur) is chair of the House Education Policy Committee.
Collins tells ABC 33/40 she believes the bill has a strong change of passage.