Friday, January 25, 2013

Arrest of Robert Pimentel, Former Elementary School Teacher, Revives Debate on Firing Criminal Educators

Update on this utterly obscene travesty of decency.

At the Wall Street Journal, "L.A. Arrest Revives Effort to Ease Firing of Teachers":
LOS ANGELES—The arrest of a Los Angeles teacher suspected of molesting 20 children is jump-starting demand for legislation that would make it easier to fire California teachers accused of abusing students and deny them lifetime medical and dental benefits.

Robert Pimentel, who was arrested Wednesday, is entitled to collect a pension and lifetime medical benefits because he resigned last March before officials could fire him, amid allegations that he had improperly touched a student, said Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Pimentel with abusing 12 girls between 2002 and 2012, according to a criminal complaint. Mr. Pimentel began teaching at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in 2007, but he worked for the district on and off since 1974.

At his arraignment in a Long Beach, Calif., courthouse Thursday, Mr. Pimentel pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held on $12 million bail.

Mr. Pimentel's lawyer, Richard Knickerbocker, said his client denies all the allegations and didn't molest any students. He said the police "were basically soliciting people to make complaints," and that Mr. Pimentel's actions were misinterpreted. Mr. Knickerbocker said, in one instance, after a student "did a very fine job, he hugged her and kissed her on the forehead and they take that as something that's nefarious."

The case is likely to reignite the debate over a proposed state law that would streamline the process for firing teachers and school administrators who have engaged in sex, violence or drug offenses with students. The bill doesn't specifically address pensions or benefits, but a local district has the power to suspend medical and dental benefits if a teacher is fired, Mr. Deasy said.

The bill was introduced last year by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla as SB 1530, but was killed in a committee.

Mr. Padilla reintroduced the bill in December as SB 10. It would allow school districts to suspend without pay teachers accused of egregious conduct, and would allow local school boards to make the final decision about dismissal—as opposed to a three-person committee that includes two teachers and a judge.

A former principal who the district says failed to report the alleged abuse when she was first made aware of allegations against Mr. Pimentel four years ago is also entitled to her pension and benefits because she resigned before she could be fired.

"They get their pensions and benefits for life, and that absolutely needs to be addressed in the law," Mr. Deasy said.
Yeah, it's great that the arrest "revives" the debate, but I doubt much will change as long as CTA has Sacramento's in its pocket. Remember from last year, "California bill on teachers accused of sex crimes fails."

More at London's Daily Mail, "California teacher 'sexually abused TWENTY elementary students and one adult'."