Sen. Runner's legislation is sponsored by the Palmdale School District and the
County Office of Education
Over the objections of the Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Senator George Runner's (R-Antelope Valley) legislation was passed by the committee on a 6-4 vote late yesterday afternoon following the compelling testimony from Palmdale School District witnesses. The legislation will allow school districts to stop paying back-pay and benefits to school employees who are arrested for abusing illegal drugs and sent to a drug diversion program in lieu of prison. "I am glad the majority of the committee listened to the common sense testimony of the Palmdale School District witnesses. It closes a loophole that rewards drug offenders at the expense of the students. Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted paying the back-pay for a teacher who was caught and arrested with illegal drugs. They should instead be used in the classroom to educate our children," said Senator George Runner.
"Unless we close this loophole courts are forced to require school districts to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to these drug offenders in back-pay. This provision of current law fails to put students first." The measure is opposed by the California Federation of Teachers who defended drug-offending teachers arguing they should be paid their full salary and benefits regardless of how many years they are in treatment. They made no distinction for a drug offender who sought out help on their own or a drug offender who was facing prison time but instead opted for drug treatment.
Runner added, "These are individuals who have been caught and arrested for breaking the law, not individuals who voluntarily come forward and admit they have an addiction and take a leave of absence to get treatment. Unfortunately, the law currently rewards teachers who have been arrested and pled guilty to drug charges by providing them back-pay compared with individuals who take responsibility and voluntarily choose to get treatment." SB 1185 will now be considered by the full State Assembly in the next few weeks.