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About this project

In July, The Orange County Register asked all 27 county school districts and the county Department of Education for a list of teachers who resigned or were terminated amid misconduct probes from January 2007 through July 2012.

The Register also sought the teachers' full discipline records, in accordance with case law that supports public disclosure.

District officials spent the next few months reviewing employment files to find individuals that were responsive to the Register's request and, in accordance with case law, formally notifying the affected individuals that the Register had sought their disciplinary files.

As the data trickled in, the Register cross-referenced the names against scores of state teacher credential records, court records and the state's Megan's Law sex-offender database to ensure no one was missed.

The review turned up several cases omitted by the local school districts, including one each from Newport-Mesa Unified, Huntington Beach Union High and the Orange County Department of Education.

The Department of Education reported omitting one name because it hadn't conducted its own investigation into the teacher.

Huntington Beach Union High reported that it did not know the teacher had committed a crime, as he quit three days after his arrest.

Newport-Mesa Unified indicated that the teacher quit before losing his license, although the district had taken action to remove him from active teaching months earlier.

In several other cases, individuals identified by districts were dropped from the Register's list because they retained their posts or left far after the misconduct allegations had been dealt with.

The next result: a list of 35 teachers who left during, before and after probes into misconduct allegations. One more case is pending.

The Register review also found wide discrepancies in the records districts maintain on teachers.

Some keep detailed records, tracking every step of the disciplinary and termination process; others could not locate key documents, including statements of charges used in firing teachers.

At the state level, the Register found that when the state credentialing commission takes action against a teacher's license, California's searchable teacher database is not immediately updated to reflect that action.

Furthermore, the state's searchable teacher database includes only a teacher's current licensing status, not records of past punishments such as a temporary suspension.

The upshot is that the list of 36, despite extensive review, might not represent every teacher fired or who left voluntarily during probes of misconduct.

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