CARSON CITY — Fewer Clark County teachers will leave their jobs early because of rights they would gain in a bill that won unanimous approval Friday in the Assembly, its sponsor said.
“This will provide job security for teachers,” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas. “In my experience, the morale (among teachers) is very bad. One reason is their salaries, and the other is they are tired of how they are treated.”
Under Assembly Bill 459, teachers could bring a representative, such as a lawyer, with them when an administrator holds a hearing on their performance or discusses complaints against them. The hearings could be tape-recorded.
In addition, the bill would require the school district to develop a policy forbidding its administrators from “intimidating, humiliating, abusing or mistreating teachers.”
Administrators who violate the policy would be subject to loss of pay and suspension.
Also, the school district could not transfer teachers to other schools as a form of discipline.
The bill would apply only to the Clark County School District.
The teachers bill of rights was one of about a dozen bills passed Friday in the Assembly. Members spent most of the day approving amendments to dozens of other bills on which they will vote Monday and Tuesday.
Under a legislative rule, most bills must pass one of the two houses of the Legislature by Tuesday night or they will be declared dead.
Two of the other more prominent measures that won unanimous support Friday were:
• Assembly Bill 421, which would create the felony crime of participating in an organized retail theft ring.
• Assembly Bill 64, which would create a fine of $100 to $500 for failing to place a child under age 6 in a child restraint when in a motor vehicle.
A lawyer who often represents teachers in disputes, Segerblom said during an earlier hearing that the Clark County School District hired 9,500 new teachers in the past four years. During the same period, he said it lost 6,000 teachers who quit, retired early or were fired.
“You want to treat the teacher with dignity and respect so they will stick around,” he said.
Segerblom said he thinks his bill will win approval in the Republican-controlled Senate because all 15 Assembly Republicans backed the bill. He speculated teachers who feel they have been abused have been contacting all legislators.
In a floor speech, Assembly Minority Leader Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, said he hopes the bill will help teachers who for one reason or another have been deciding to leave the school district.
“If they work hard in that school, they deserve to stay in that school,” Mabey said.
In an interview after the vote on her AB421, Assemblywoman Valerie Weber, R-Las Vegas, said organized theft rings nationally steal $36 billion from merchants.
In Las Vegas, Weber said Vons, Walgreens and many other retailers have suffered big losses to the theft rings.
What often happens is that thieves receive misdemeanor sentences and immediately go back to stealing, she said.
Under her bill, prosecutors would aggregate the value of items stolen from stores. If participants in an organized theft ring took items valued at $2,500 to $10,000 in a 90-day period, they would be subject to one-year to 10-year prison sentences. If they stole items worth more than $10,000, the sentence would be two years to 15 years.
Weber said the theft rings normally consist of a lookout, a getaway driver and several thieves who load up items.
“It is a very sophisticated crime that needs to have appropriate punishment,” Weber said.
Unlike shoplifters who steal one or two items for their personal use, participants in organized theft rings steal goods worth a lot of money, often to pay for methamphetamine habits, according to Weber.
After the vote on AB64, Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson said legislators are not trying to punish parents who fail to properly strap children in child restraint seats, but rather to get their attention on what could happen.
“I don’t think you can put a price tag on children’s safety,” said Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas.
He said judges have testified how unsecured children had flown through car windows and suffered terrible injuries.
State law requires people who transport children under the age of 6 and who weigh 60 pounds or less to place them in child restraint seats. Violators can be fined $50 to $500 for the first offense.
Under the bill, the fine for the first offense would be $100 to $500. Violators also would be required to perform 10 to 50 hours of community service.
Also, people who complete a safety course within 60 days of sentencing could have their fines and community service waived.2007