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March 6, 2014 | By Ruben Vives
A 43-year-old former middle school teacher was found guilty this week of committing lewd acts against a student and possession of child pornography, prosecutors said. Steven Andrews -- a former teacher at Lorbeer Middle School in Diamond Bar -- was convicted Wednesday of 17 felony counts: six counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 16, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, three counts of lewd act upon a child and one count of possession or control of child pornography, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
March 4, 2014 | By Howard Blume
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to limit teacher job protections in California. The case, Vergara vs. California, is about halfway through trial. So far, advocates for nine families have presented their evidence that job protections for teachers are so stringent that they work against the best interests of students. Poor and minority students suffer disproportionate harm, attorneys argued. They are seeking to nullify laws that provide for teachers to earn tenure after 18 months as well as rules that rely on seniority rather than merit to determine which teachers are laid off. Lastly, the suit targets the teacher dismissal process as too lengthy and expensive.
March 4, 2014 | By Joseph Serna
A New York parolee accused of fatally strangling a retired teacher in Hollywood may have come west after developing a network of pen pals, some that apparently grew from a shared fondness for the long-running soap opera "General Hospital. " Three months after he was released from prison after serving 20 years for murder, Scott Kratlian showed up in Hollywood and allegedly strangled one of his pen pals, 82-year-old Harry Major. The relationship between the convicted killer and the retired Hollywood High School teacher was probably one of many the inmate fostered over the years while imprisoned at Marcy Correctional Facility outside Syracuse, said another of Kratlian's pen pals.
March 3, 2014 | By Howard Blume
Los Angeles teachers union president Warren Fletcher lashed out at the school district Monday for its handling of teachers accused of misconduct, vowing to file federal and state age-discrimination complaints. The basis of the complaints would be data that, according to Fletcher, show that older, higher-earning teachers are the “overwhelming targets” of a disciplinary system officials have defended as necessary to protect students. Fletcher's stand, his most aggressive position yet on this issue, is laid out in a survey of the 10 candidates running for president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
March 1, 2014 | By Karin Klein
A poll of public school teachers finds that on average, high school students are assigned 3.5 hours of homework per weeknight, or more than 17 hours a week. Or that's the teachers' perspective, anyway. If that's how it actually plays out, it strikes me as too much by far. I'm no homework-denier. When you look at the research , it's clear that homework, at least at the high school level, contributes to higher achievement. But I'm also in the camp that says kids, including teenagers, need well-balanced lives that include extracurricular activities, outside pursuits, physical activity, fun with friends and family, and just hanging around accomplishing nothing.
February 26, 2014 | By Howard Blume
A state lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday that would attempt to streamline the process for dismissing California teachers accused of misconduct. The proposed bill by state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) also would strive to make the dismissal process less expensive. Recent attempts to change rules have wilted under opposition from teacher unions. A law passed last year with the support of unions but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Critics said it could have made dismissals even more onerous for school districts.
February 25, 2014 | By Karin Klein
You would have thought that after 45 states leaped forward to adopt the Common Core curriculum standards for their schools, the only issue going forward would be how to make this big change happen in the smoothest and most successful way. Instead, the standards, which call for covering less academic territory but covering it more deeply, and challenging students to think about the concepts and processes rather than just follow directions, are...
February 25, 2014 | By Richard Winton
A Bell High school drama teacher was charged Tuesday with multiple felony sex crimes involving two students a decade or more ago at a Los Angeles high school, and police suspect there may be other possible victims. Peter Christoph Gomez, 48, of La Habra, was teaching at Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park when authorities allege he sexually abused two students, who were 14 to 18 years old, between June 1999 and September 2003. Gomez, a popular and well-known drama and history teacher at Los Angeles Unified's Bell High School, made a brief appearance in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 26 felony counts.
February 24, 2014 | By Joseph Serna
A New York man charged with strangling a former Hollywood High School teacher pleaded not guilty Monday to murder. Scott Kratlian , 44, was charged in the killing of Harry Major, 82, a former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who was reportedly popular with students. He was found  dead Feb. 12 at his home  in the 1400 block of North Vista Street, police said.  Kratlian faces up to 56 years to life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors say Major and Kratlian were penpals while Kratlian was in a New York prison serving time for manslaughter.
February 23, 2014 | By Eric Sondheimer
 More than 10 years ago, Mike Hamilton was an assistant coach at Harvard-Westlake and not looking to go anywhere. Harvard-Westlake Coach Greg Hilliard decided to give him a little push, telling him he was ready to become a head coach. Hamilton took the job at Sherman Oaks Buckley in 2003, and on Tuesday night, it will be the pupil taking on the teacher when Buckley plays host to Harvard-Westlake in a Southern Section Division 4AA playoff game. "Greg is still my mentor," said Hamilton, whose team is 29-0.
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