Parents of students at Miramonte Elementary School escort they children out of school on February 6, 2012.
Following lewd conduct allegations against teachers at Miramonte Elementary, parents, students and attorneys have used the troubled school as a backdrop for emotional protests and press conferences. When the school reopens Thursday after a two-day shutdown, the crowds outside will likely be bigger than ever.
Though the grounds outside Miramonte Elementary have buzzed with activity in recent days, inside the school a whole new set of teachers absorbed a crash course on how to help kids cope with trauma and pick up where their old teachers had left off.
Pia Escudero manages school mental health services for LAUSD. In a perfect world, she says, the return to classes would be business as usual.
"Students will be expected to be in the classroom and resume learning as much as possible," says Escudero, although she adds that this learning will now involve a "new teacher and a psychiatric social worker."
Escudero says teachers and social workers will be present in all 45 classrooms. Together, those teams will lead orientation activities for students to help them handle the abrupt changes in the school’s staff.
Younger kids will get to write goodbye letters to teachers, but Escudero says the older students' primary task is to "dispel a lot of myths and misinformation students may have."
New staff members anticipate a chilly welcome from parents, so they’ve planned outreach sessions for them in addition to students and have openly encouraged parents to drop in on classrooms during the weeks ahead.
The hope, Escudero says, is that those parents won’t continue to keep their children home from school.