Benicia Unified School District

FAQ Regarding Personnel Matters

Category(s): Other

Posted On: March 22, 2024

Please describe the Benicia Unified School District pre-employment process. What steps does the District take to ensure applicants have not been convicted of a serious crime or felony?
  1. Request to Post: Obtain HR and Business Office approval. Post the position on and other appropriate sites. Send an email notification to all users notifying them of the posted position.
  2. EdJoin Application Requirements: The Edjoin application requires applicants to provide demographic information, education details, work experience, references, letters of recommendation, and legal information.
  3. Legal Information: The legal section of the application includes two questions:
    1. “Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, or do you currently have a felony or misdemeanor charge pending?”
      1. Convictions include a plea of guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) and/or a finding of guilty by a judge or a jury, or a conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed, including ‘expungement’ granted pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4.
      2. Exclude convictions related to the use of marijuana that are over two years old.
    2. “Have you ever been dismissed or asked to resign from any position?”
  4. Screening Applications: Applications are screened for compliance with the position requirements. Conduct at least one pre-interview reference check with a former or current supervisor.
  5. Interviews: Schedule interviews for candidates with positive references.
  6. Additional References: After the interview, conduct at least one (1) or preferred two (2) additional reference checks with applicants’ supervisors, coaches, mentors, professors, etc. Personal references are not acceptable.
  7. Request to Hire: Submit a ‘Request to Hire’ form to HR upon positive reference checks.
  8. HR Review: HR conducts additional references if necessary and holds a conference. A second interview may be conducted depending on the position.
  9. Offer: HR extends the job offer to the selected candidate.
  10. Background Check: Upon acceptance of the job offer, HR requests a Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check by fingerprinting to screen out candidates with a criminal history per the Penal Code, California Education Codes, and Board Policy: Regulation 4112.5: Criminal Record Check.
  11. Final Approval: The Governing Board has the final approval for hiring employees.
  12. Hiring Process Completion: Once the background check is clear, complete the hiring paperwork, mandatory trainings, and other necessary details.
What is the process when a parent makes a complaint about an employee?

Many issues are best resolved by discussion between the parties involved. If a problem remains unresolved, a formal complaint may be submitted in accordance with appropriate district procedures. Complaints will be investigated and every attempt will be made to resolve the issue at the school level following the Guidelines for Parent & Student Communications to Teachers & Staff. If the complaint cannot be resolved, appeals may be made to a district-level administrator, Superintendent, and the Governing Board.

When a formal complaint is made about an employee, the following process is used:

  • The employee is notified and given a copy of the complaint.
  • An investigation occurs
  • The employee is given due process
  • Disciplinary action is taken if warranted
  • A report is written and distributed to the complainant and the employee

Here is a link to the District webpage for additional information: Complaints

What rights do employees have during the disciplinary process?

Employees in California school districts have the right to due process, including notice of the allegations against them, an opportunity to respond to those allegations, representation by legal counsel or a union representative, and sometimes, a formal hearing.

The disciplinary process typically involves investigation, notification of allegations, the opportunity for the employee to respond, a formal hearing if necessary, and, ultimately, a determination of disciplinary action by the district administration or governing board or the Office of Administrative Hearings in cases of teacher suspensions and dismissals. The Discipline articles from the Benicia Teachers’ Association (BTA), and the California School Employees’ Association (CSEA) are linked below: 

How do employee investigations work?

When a concern is brought forward about an employee, depending on the nature of the concern, the basic guidelines are as follows:

  • The employee is notified a concern has been brought forward
  • Interviews occur with identified staff and students
    • If interviews with students occur, parents are notified as soon as possible
    • If there are potential legal implications, law enforcement is notified
    • If there are potential child abuse or neglect concerns, Child Protective Services (CPS) is notified
  • The employee is given due process
  • Depending on the findings, actions may be taken ranging from:
    • No action
    • Trainings for staff
    • Restorative justice measures
    • Verbal warnings
    • Letter of reprimand
    • Notice of Unprofessional Conduct or Unsatisfactory Performance
    • Suspension
    • Dismissal
What role do employee unions play in the disciplinary process?

Employee unions may provide representation, assistance, and advocacy for employees during the disciplinary process, including representation in meetings, negotiations, or grievance proceedings.

What is the process for disciplining employees in California school districts?

The District follows guidelines outlined in the California Education Code, BUSD Governing Board Policy, and the employee labor agreements, both Benicia Teachers Association (BTA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA). The District aims to resolve matters at the lowest level possible. If the conduct in question raises to which an investigation is needed, the District does the following:

  • The investigator notifies the employee of the concern brought forward.
  • The investigator conducts interviews with the complainant, respondent, and any potential witnesses identified. The investigators review supporting documents or other identified artifacts with identified staff and students.
    • If interviews with students occur, parents are notified as soon as possible.
    • If there are potential legal implications, law enforcement is notified.
    • If there are potential child abuse or neglect concerns, Child Protective Services are notified.
  • The employee is given due process.
  • Depending on the findings, actions may be taken ranging from:
    • No action
    • Trainings for staff
    • Restorative justice measures
    • Verbal warnings
    • Letter of reprimand
    • Notice of Unprofessional Conduct or Unsatisfactory Performance
    • Suspension
    • Dismissal
Under what conditions would the Benicia Unified School District move a staff member to another school site or department?

Please be assured that the Benicia Unified School District does not use the transfer process to address serious criminal offenses or felonies punishable by the law.

The District follows the voluntary and involuntary transfer procedures outlined in the Benicia Teachers Association (BTA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA) employee labor agreements. Staff members or the District may request a voluntary transfer to another school site or work location for various reasons, including performance reasons, needs of the District, and/or knowing an employee can be more successful in another setting. 

What is the District's timeline for providing the community with information about employee issues or absences?

California school district regulations require all  Districts to maintain confidentiality and privacy during disciplinary investigations and proceedings. However, we also prioritize transparency and aim to provide our community with clear, concise, and timely information as soon as it is legally possible. It’s crucial to understand that personnel matters are confidential, and our communications are guided by employment law, which may sometimes limit public communication.

Did BUSD think that by waiting so long, it might have failed additional young victims who could report and speak out instead of suffering in silence?

The District communicated information with the broad community when it is legally possible and within the parameters of the law. Upon learning of the concerns, the District took immediate action by placing the employee on leave in December 2022. We ensured that the former employee had no further contact with students in the capacity of a BUSD employee. We promptly contacted law enforcement and filed a report with Child Protective Services. A third-party attorney was also engaged to investigate the alleged conduct. Simultaneously, the District initiated its investigation in collaboration with law enforcement.

The findings of the District’s internal investigation produced enough information to lead to the employee’s separation from the District, at which time we filed a report with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. This authority can revoke a teacher’s credentials.

It seems very clear that it is not news because you have been aware of this terrible incident for more than a year now, and you chose not to inform the parents of Benicia at the time.

In December 2022, when we placed the employee on leave for concerns raised in our District, we were not aware of the conduct alleged in the recent criminal indictment. This information only came to our attention in March 2024. We communicated to the broad community on March 5, 2024, as this was the first available opportunity for us to share information about this former employee legally, given that he has now been publicly indicted.

Students often notify parents regarding incidents before the school site or District administration. Why were the students given this responsibility?

We do not delegate this responsibility to our students, but we do strive to teach them the power of self-advocacy and the power of their voice.  While the District encourages open dialogue between students and parents, it does not delegate students the responsibility to inform their parents about potentially serious incidents on BUSD school campuses. Technology at our fingertips enables students to communicate quickly with parents and one another from their personal perspective. While we aim to send timely communications to our parents, we must ensure that the information is accurate and that communications do not compromise an ongoing investigation. 

There is an abundance of misinformation circulating through various media channels. The District remains obligated to share information within the parameters of the law and when it is legally possible. Specifically, when District personnel investigate or address personnel matters, we will not share that information with the broad community as it is confidential. However, we must contact parents regarding students impacted by or spoken to regarding the incident. Sometimes, the student may contact or make it home before the District has an available opportunity to contact parents.

An emergency crisis line number should have been at the disposition of students and families.

The District communicated with and supported the families who shared allegations and were involved in the process. Given that this former employee has now been publicly indicted, this was the first available opportunity to legally share information about him. We encouraged others who had information to contact local law enforcement officials and the District for support. The District also has an anonymous reporting app, See Something, Say Something at the bottom of the District Webpage linked here: See Something, Say Something.

How does the District ensure that staff have training about appropriate adult-to-student relationships?

Each year, all employees are required by the California Education Code to complete the following: 

  • Mandated Reporter: Child Abuse and Neglect– Must complete annually.
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention for Non-Managers or Sexual Harassment: Policy and Prevention – Must complete every other year
Would we have been informed if the news from the Vallejo Sun article had not been released?

Yes, the District was preparing a communication to share with the community. The Vallejo Sun released its publication before we could share our message.

What training has the staff had in implicit bias and racist language?

BUSD staff members are required by law to complete the following training and have engaged in equity work since 2016, including:

  • Implicit bias training
  • Culturally responsive practices
  • Compassionate dialogue
  • Mindful Allyship: Healing as a Vehicle to Antiracist Leadership
  • Restorative Practices
  • Online Choice modules including:
    • Microaggressions
    •  Implicit bias 
    • Becoming Racially and Ethnically Conscious, 
    • The Impact of Microaggressions
    • Debiasing Our Thoughts and Actions 
    • Contemporary Barriers to Student Success
    • Understanding Non-ness and Marginalization
    • How to be an Ally Against LGBTQ Bullying 
    • Supporting Student Empowerment
    • Building an LGBTQ-Inclusive Environment