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by Maura Larkins
CCTC--California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
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by Maura Larkins
Tears, hugs follow jurors’ $3.1
million award to whistleblower in
teacher credentialing case
By Loretta Kalb
August 19, 2016

Kathleen Carroll, a former attorney for the
California Commission on Teacher
lost her job after disclosing a
three-year backlog in teacher misconduct
complaints and other problems at the agency.
Then-state Auditor Elaine Howle characterized the
commission as one of the “
worst run”
agencies she had ever investigated.

Loretta Kalb The Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento woman fired from the California
Commission on Teacher Credentialing after disclosing a
three-year backlog in teacher misconduct complaints
has won a $3.1 million jury verdict in a lawsuit against
the agency and two of its executives.

Whistleblower Kathleen Carroll, an attorney for the
commission until her termination in November 2010,
revealed sweeping backlogs, nepotism in the agency
and favoritism that within a year led to a blistering state
audit of its educator discipline process. Then-state
Auditor Elaine Howle characterized the commission as
one of the “worst-run” agencies she had ever

Carroll said she wept after the jury verdict. “This has
been six years of my life,” she said this week...
Sacramento Superior Court jurors issued their verdict
Aug. 10 following a 20-day trial and after little more than
six hours of deliberations, said Dan Siegel, Carroll’s
attorney in Oakland. The whistleblower retaliation suit
named the commission along with former general
counsel Mary Armstrong, who headed the division that
oversaw teacher sanctions, and assistant chief counsel
Lee Pope. Both have since retired.

The commission issued a statement expressing, in part,
disappointment with the outcome. Neither Armstrong nor
Pope responded to Sacramento Bee requests for

In 2012, Carroll lost her appeal to the State Personnel
Board for reinstatement, failing to prove she was
dismissed because of whistleblowing. But Superior
Court jurors this month did find that Carroll’s
whistleblowing contributed to the commission’s decision
to fire her.
Jurors held the commission liable for the bulk of
the $3.1 million in damages. The award included
punitive damages against Pope of $130,000 and
against Armstrong of $90,000.
The law does not allow
punitive damages against public agencies.Carroll said
the years of court battles have been emotionally and
financially draining. As a heart transplant recipient, she
deals with high medical bills and has spent all her
personal and retirement savings. She has not been
able to buy tickets to visit her mother in Connecticut,
who is 87 and in ill health...

“I could have just looked the other way,” Carroll said.
“But I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. These
were not little offenses; they were serious.”

Siegel said that while many complaints against school
employees with credentials are routine, others can
involve child molestation, child pornography or drug
addiction. “What Kathy learned was there was a huge
backlog of work” of all sorts that wasn’t being
processed, he said. During the years required for the
commission to act, teachers could leave one school
district and get a job in another.

Carroll said some cases would have resulted in
mandatory license revocations because of court
convictions.“They are automatically revoked,” she said,
“and that was not happening. That was one of the
things that pushed me.

“There were stacks of paper everywhere. Some
were in desks and some in boxes. They hadn’t
been entered into the computers. Student
assistants were finding those serious convictions
in some of those stacks.”
The day of that discovery,
she said, “my heart dropped.”
One case left
unaddressed for three years involved a middle
school teacher arrested for allegedly showing
pornography to a student, she said. When the
commission finally pursued it, they could no
longer find witnesses.

“That person is still teaching today,” she said.

When she sounded the backlog alarm with
colleagues, she said, “I was shunned like I was
radioactive.” Then, according to the lawsuit,
Armstrong told commissioners at a public meeting
in August 2009 there were only little backlogs
from time to time.

Siegel said when Carroll raised the issue, executives
at the commission “basically blew her off.”
In mid December 2009, Carroll turned to the
Bureau of State Audits’ whistleblower hotline
and later spoke to a member of then-Senate
President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s staff.
“They did their due diligence and concluded
she knew what she was talking about,” he said.
Steinberg requested the audit, which began in

Siegel described Carroll as an admirable
character who “went out on a limb” for what
she believed. He said that in the months
leading up to Carroll’s firing in November
2010, some of the commission’s executive
leadership “began plotting to see how they
could get rid of her.” They tried to lay her off,
proposing her elimination as a cost-cutting
measure tied to just one employee, according
to the suit. Ultimately, the commission fired her

The audit found major flaws in nearly every
aspect of the commission regulatory process,
including lapses in launching investigations,
gathering facts, tracking cases and revoking
or suspending teacher credentials for
The backlog reached 12,600
cases at one point. Surveys tied to the
audit showed that 40 percent of
employees said hiring and promotion at
the agency were compromised by family
relationships or favoritism. And 43
percent of respondents at the
commission said they feared retaliation if
they filed a grievance or formal

At a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing
in May 2011, then-Assemblyman Ricardo Lara,
a Bell Gardens Democrat, said he wanted to
see a shake-up of the commission’s 15-
member governing board and called for
resignations at the head of the agency.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable for
the gross mismanagement of the commission,”
said Lara, who chaired the committee and is
now a state senator. The next month,
Executive Director Dale Janssen said he would
Ex-Poway Supe Can No Longer Teach or Manage Schools
By Ashly McGlone
Voice of San Diego
Aug. 3, 2017

Fired Poway Unified School District superintendent John Collins can no longer teach or manage public schools in

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing revoked Collins’ teaching and administrator credentials effective
July 23 due to “misconduct,” according to the commission’s website. No other details about the action were
immediately available...