(a) Any certificated employee may be suspended or transferred to other duties by the governing board if the board has reasonable cause to believe that the employee is suffering from mental illness of such a degree as to render him or her incompetent to perform his or her duties.
(b) The governing board shall immediately, upon any suspension or transfer under this section, give to the employee a written statement of the facts giving rise to the board’s belief, and an opportunity to appear before the board within 10 days to explain or refute the charges.
(c) If, after the employee’s appearance before the board, the board decides to continue the suspension or transfer, or if the employee chooses not to appear before the board, the employee shall then be offered, in writing, the opportunity of being examined by a panel consisting of three persons who are either psychiatrists or psychologists, at least one of whom shall be a psychiatrist, selected by him or her from a list of psychiatrists and psychologists to be provided by the board. To assist the panel in making its determination, the governing board shall supply to the panel, prior to the date scheduled for the examination, a list of the duties of the position from which the employee was suspended or transferred. The employee shall continue to receive his or her regular salary and all other benefits of employment during the period dating from his or her suspension to the filing of the report of the panel with the governing board.
(d) The examination shall be conducted at school district expense within 15 days of any suspension or transfer ordered under this section. The employee shall submit to the examination, but shall be entitled to be represented by a psychiatrist, psychologist licensed under Chapter 6.6 (commencing with Section 2900) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, or physician of his or her own choice, and any report of the psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician selected by him or her shall be filed with the panel at the request of the employee.
A written report of the panel on the examination of the suspended or transferred employee shall be submitted to the governing board no later than 10 days after completion of the examination. A copy shall be supplied to the employee upon request. The report shall contain a finding on whether the employee is suffering from mental illness of such a degree as to render him or her incompetent to perform his or her duties.
(e) If a majority of the panel conclude that the employee should be permitted to return to his or her duties, no written record of the suspension or of the determination of the panel shall be retained, and in all respects any written record concerning the employee shall appear as it did before the suspension was made.
(f) If a majority of the panel find in the panel’s report that the employee is suffering from mental illness of such a degree as to render him or her incompetent to perform his or her duties, the governing board may, upon receipt of the report, place the employee on mandatory sick leave of absence. Any mandatory sick leave of absence imposed under this section shall not exceed two years, during which period the employee shall be entitled to sick leave and hospital and medical benefits that he or she accrued during his or her employment by the governing board but only to the extent of that accrual.
(g) Any employee placed on mandatory sick leave of absence pursuant to this section may, in writing, immediately demand a hearing. Upon receipt of that written demand, the governing board shall file a complaint in the superior court of the county in which the school district, or the major part thereof, is located, setting forth the charges against the employee and asking that the court inquire into the charges and determine whether or not the charges are true, and, if true, whether they constitute sufficient grounds for placing the employee on mandatory sick leave of absence, and for a judgment pursuant to its findings.
(h) If the court finds that the employee was not, at the time of the suspension, incompetent to perform his or her assigned duties and should not have been placed on mandatory sick leave of absence, the employee shall be immediately reinstated to the same or a substantially similar position with full back salary, and any written record of the suspension or transfer or any report of the panel shall be destroyed.
(i) If the court confirms the placing of the employee on mandatory sick leave, or if the employee does not seek a hearing, then, upon written request of the employee made not earlier than six months nor later than two years after the date he or she was placed on mandatory sick leave of absence, a new panel consisting of three persons who are either psychiatrists or psychologists, at least one of whom shall be a psychiatrist, shall be convened by, and at the expense of, the governing board to review its original conclusion. If the original conclusion is not changed by the new panel as a result of that review, the employee shall be continued on the mandatory sick leave of absence, except that when the employee’s total period of absence exceeds two years, the governing board shall either rescind its action and reinstate the employee to the same or a substantially similar position, or shall serve the employee with a notice of intention to dismiss him or her, and proceed according to Section 44943.
(j) If a majority of the new panel concludes in its report, or any subsequent review thereof, that the suspended employee or employee on mandatory sick leave of absence should be permitted to return to his or her duties, or if the court so concludes, the governing board shall take immediate action to restore the employee to the position from which he or she was suspended or transferred or to a substantially similar position.
(k) Every hearing and action by or before the governing board pursuant to this section shall be in executive session, and no decision, action, or occurrence therein shall be made public, unless the employee so requests in writing.
(l) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede Section 44949.
(Amended by Stats. 1989, Ch. 455, Sec. 1.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018