$2 million and 7 years to fire a teacher

Seven years after Los Angeles school officials fired a special education teacher for sexual harassment, a judge has approved the firing of Matthew Kim, reports the LA Times. Kim “was accused of touching co-workers’ breasts and making improper advances toward students.”

All told, the Los Angeles Unified School District has spent nearly $2 million, including Kim’s pay and benefits while he was barred from the classroom.

Known as a “housed” employee, he and about 160 others reported every day to administrative offices, where they were assigned no work.

The state Commission on Professional Competence “agreed that some of Kim’s actions could have been considered sexual harassment but ruled that he should not be fired.” The district won the case on appeal.

The Times wrote about the long, costly process of firing teachers, including a story on “housed” teachers that spotlighted Kim’s case. The teacher’s response is here.

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  1. What a frustrating story.
    The reporter should have included more information about the case.

  2. Students are our highest priority.

  3. Here’s what I don’t understand: If this teacher was making passes at students why wasn’t he arrested?

  4. Mark G. says:

    Now consider how tough it is to get rid of teachers who are just ineffective in the classroom and have never made a legal misstep. While I appreciate my union’s protection and collective bargaining, removal of ineffective teachers is one of the situations where the teacher’s union seems to care more about employing people than impacting student learning.

  5. thaprof says:

    OK, how about this:

    If I promise to continue NOT to touch co-workers’ breasts or make improper advances toward students, may I become an “assigned” employee? At full salary and benefits, of course.

  6. Right. It appears the issue is clouded by the fact the guy has cerebral palsy and claims he doesn’t have control over his wandering hand.

  7. This is simply a case of a poorly administrated school, in my opinion.

  8. (Michael): “This is simply a case of a poorly administrated school, in my opinion.”

    Well, yeah, but factors which contribute to “poorly administered” include collective bargaining, political control, tax subsidy, and a local monopoly position in receipt of tax subsidies.

  9. Michael: yup. My collectively bargained, politically contolled, tax subsidized local monopoly government-run school once found a teacher looking at porn during the school day (not showing it to kids, etc.). Was fired that afternoon and never seen again. I think the guy had been with the district for like 20 years. Poof.

  10. Kimmy– the LAT did a couple of stories on this guy. Do a search. If this guy had been a white middle aged male, he’d have been gone long ago. But Asian and handicapped? Whole different story.

  11. Mike in Texas, good question. The place I generally think of wherein to “house” people who solicit sexual activity with minors is called “prison.”

    But maybe that’s just my simplistic prosecutor’s mind again, and this is something esoteric and complicated that only the teachers’ unions in all their glorious brilliance can understand.

  12. Malcolm, you are far too general about assigning blame.

    As LS pointed out, effectively run schools don’t have this problem – and they still have union, tenured staff and are government run/funded.

    It is extremely myopic and biased to say the problems these schools are having is because of tenure, collective bargaining, or government run systems.

    That is simply not true. Your perspective – and desire to singularly assign blame to teacher unions – is so sadly off base and not remotely helpful to the discussion.

  13. Dave,

    I followed the link to the LA Times story and this looks like a pretty complicated case.

    A union official says by law they are required to defend members regardless of what the charges are. Maybe someone from CA can enlighten us.