L.A. schools chief critical of unfit teachers ‘milking the system’

The top administrator for L.A.’s schools said this morning he was frustrated by unfit teachers “milking the system” by contesting justified dismissals for years.

Supt. Ramon C. Cortines was reacting this morning to an article in the Los Angeles Times on how difficult it is to fire teachers for gross misconduct. Today’s article, part of an investigative series by reporter Jason Song, detailed how 160 instructors and others remain on the payroll, without any job duties, while their fitness is being evaluated or their dismissals move through due process, which can stretch for years. The in-limbo employees cost the district about $10 million a year.

L.A. Times

“If I had my way, I would fire all 150, and they would not get another damned penny,” Cortines said in response to a question at the end of a news conference at Fairfax High School. 

“I do not have the legal right to do that, and they’re milking the system,” he said. “And the system is designed not to protect kids and schools and the educators, but it is designed to protect the very few incompetents that we have.”

Teachers union president A.J. Duffy has asserted that accused teachers deserve the presumption of innocence and due process and that they should not be expected to perform non-teaching duties while their cases are being resolved.

Cortines was speaking at Fairfax because it was the site of the first confirmed case of swine flu in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Cortines said he authorized the school to remain open on the advice of public health officials.

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