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City Pushes for Power to Fire Teachers in Sexual Misconduct Cases

Current law says that outside hearing officers will determine the case.

Mayor Bloomberg wants to shift the power for firing teachers who engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with students from independent hearing officers to the mayoral appointed schools chancellor.

Under the current state 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 would give the schools chancellor 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.”

Under the proposal, principals would have access to information about any employee who has been disciplined, and a newly formed Disciplinary Support Unit would help make sure that schools take appropriate action after investigators determine employees have engaged in misconduct.

Teachers Unions balked at the bill. 

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that the union has "zero tolerance on the issue of sexual misconduct with children."  

But, he said, "This proposed legislation would allow the chancellor to unilaterally find an employee guilty of sexual misconduct even though an independent hearing officer who has weighed all the evidence has determined otherwise."

Editor's Note: June 4, 10:09 p.m.: This version corrects mistakes in the origional post as to the status of the legislation. 

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