Community College Academic Employees Now Entitled to be Notified of Misconduct Allegations Before Being Placed on Administrative Leave
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017
By Langenkamp, Curtis, Price, Lindstrom & Chevedden, LLP
On October 13, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1651, adding section 87623 to the California Education Code, effective immediately. This law requires a community college to provide an academic employee with written notification of the general nature of misconduct allegations against him or her at least two business days before the community college places the employee on involuntary paid administrative leave related to those allegations. The law also provides that the employer should (but is not required to) complete its investigation of the accused misconduct and initiate disciplinary proceedings against, or reinstate, the academic employee within 90 days of placing the employee on involuntary paid administrative leave. The law authorizes Governing Boards to enact their own regulations establishing a required amount of time in which a community college employer is expected to complete its investigation.
The purpose behind AB 1651, according to its author Assembly Member Eloise Reyes (D):
An increasing number of community college professors are being disciplined by placing them on paid administrative leave and are not being notified of the allegations against them. In addition [to] not being notified of the allegations against them, district administrators are not required to provide evidence or access to this evidence to the faculty who must wait months before receiving any information and the secretive nature of the disciplinary process places them in a state of limbo.
This law provides an exception to the advance notice requirement, by allowing community college employers to place an academic employee on leave immediately, in situations when this is determined to be necessary due to a risk of physical danger or other related risk arising from the allegations. In such cases, the community college must, at minimum, provide the employee with the general nature of the accusations within five business days of being placed on involuntary paid administrative leave. This law applies to academic employees of community colleges, defined as a person employed by a community college district in an academic position for which minimum qualifications have been established by the California Colleges Board of Governors. (Education Code section 87001.)
Our attorneys have experience representing faculty who are accused of misconduct and are under investigation by their community college employer. See the text of Assembly Bill 1651.