California Education Code Section 44932 - Interpretation

Section 44932, subdivision (a) provides that "no permanent employee shall be dismissed except for one or more of the following causes: (1) Immoral or unprofessional conduct. (2) Commission, aiding, or advocating the commission of acts of criminal syndicalism, as prohibited by Chapter 188 of the Statutes of 1919, or in any amendment thereof. (3) Dishonesty. (4) Unsatisfactory performance. (5) Evident unfitness for service. (6) Physical or mental condition unfitting him or her to instruct or associate with children. (7) Persistent violation of or refusal to obey the school laws of the state or reasonable regulations prescribed for the government of the public schools by the State Board of Education or by the governing board of the school district employing him or her. (8) Conviction of a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude. (9) Violation of Section 51530 or conduct specified in Section 1028 of the Government Code, added by Chapter 1418 of the Statutes of 1947. (10) Knowing membership by the employee in the Communist Party. (11) Alcoholism or other drug abuse which makes the employee unfit to instruct or associate with children." In Morrison v. State Board of Education (1969) 1 Cal.3d 214, the California Supreme Court concluded that section 44932 was vague and potentially overbroad in permitting dismissal for immoral or unprofessional conduct because those terms were not connected to the requirements of the teaching profession. The court held that a certified teacher cannot be dismissed unless the immoral or unprofessional behavior showed that the teacher is "unfit to teach." (Id., at p. 229.) The "fitness to teach" standard was extended to the "evident unfitness for service" ground for dismissal in Board of Education v. Jack M. (1977) 19 Cal.3d 691, 696. Accordingly, to dismiss a teacher on these grounds, there must be findings of immoral or unprofessional conduct or conduct showing evident unfitness for service, together with an additional finding that the misconduct rendered the teacher "unfit to teach." The determination of "fitness to teach" requires consideration of: "(1) the likelihood that the conduct would recur; (2) the existence of aggravating or extenuating circumstances; (3) the impact of publicity; (4) the effect on teacher-student relationships; (5) any disruption of the educational process; (6) the employee's motive for the conduct; (7) the proximity or remoteness in time of the conduct." (Fontana Unified School Dist. v. Burman, 45 Cal.3d at p. 220)