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LAUSD teachers paid to stay home?

May 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Despite budget cuts and looming teacher layoffs, the Los Angeles Unified School District is paying $10 million a year to 160 teachers who are not allowed anywhere near a classroom.Thomas Shelden is the first to tell you: What he is doing is a waste of taxpayer money. He is an LAUSD teacher, awaiting an administrative investigation. Until there's a decision, he is ordered to stay at home during school hours. In turn, he collects his salary: $73,500 a year.

"I can use my computer and I can watch television and do dishes and vacuum," said Shelden.

In a separate case, teacher Matthew Kim and LAUSD are locked in a court battle. Kim is accused of groping the breast of one employee and touching the breast of another. Kim has cerebral palsy and says the movement was involuntary.

Kim, Shelden, and 150 others keep their paychecks thanks to union rules and despite objections by the district.

"Let me tell you that if I had my way, I would fire all 150 and they would not get another damn penny," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

"The number of teachers, compared to the total number of teachers that the district says are incompetent, is minuscule -- minuscule," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

Duffy blames poor vetting by the school district.

"If the administration would focus on the first two years of probation, they could get rid of bad teachers," said Duffy.

"They're milking the system," said Cortines.

What Thomas Shelden is doing, they call it "teacher jail."

An LAUSD teacher for 18 years, Shelden says he is falsely accused of sexually harassing a co-worker at Charles White Elementary School. He says he would prefer to be earning his salary in the classroom.

"I should not be sitting here at home," said Shelden. "I should be with those children. I should be teaching them English. I should be teaching them reading."

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