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Unions respond to transfer of entire Miramonte staff

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.

L.A. Unified’s Miramonte Elementary School is reopening Thursday with 169 new teachers, administrators and staff. District superintendent John Deasy took the unprecedented action after police arrested two teachers for allegedly committing lewd acts against young students.

However, Deasy’s move is coming under fire from educators and parents.

A district parent, a former teachers’ union president and a union official all voiced their criticism of Deasy’s action.

"Not all of the teachers there are bad," said Yvonne Condes, a writer for the blog MomsLA who has children in LAUSD schools. "I just think it’s too disruptive to the kids to completely get rid of everyone in the school."

Meanwhile, former teachers union president John Perez called it "a gross violation of an individual teacher’s rights" and SEIU Local 99 spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos called the reputation of the school "tarnished."

Deasy told KPCC’s Airtalk he relocated the teachers for an undetermined amount of time to help the police investigation.

"I appreciate the criticism," said the superintendent. "I am ultimately responsible for their sons and daughters’ safety and security."

Deasy said he acted to make sure investigators get to the bottom of alleged teacher abuse at the school.

Labor contracts protect employee hiring, firing and transfer. United Teachers Los Angeles says Deasy invoked a two-sentence administrative transfer clause that gives the administration power to move employees for the good of the district’s educational program.

Former teachers union president John Perez said Deasy’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

"Those teachers, the vast majority of whom I’m sure [have] never done anything remotely resembling what was done by these other two teachers, are forever now going to be tarred as, quote, 'Miramonte teachers.'"

UTLA’s spokeswoman said current leaders are concerned about the safety and welfare of the students but wouldn’t do interviews to talk about Miramonte or Deasy’s transfer of employees.

SEIU Local 99 spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos said her union’s been answering concerns from the custodians, cafeteria workers and others it represents at Miramonte.

"Under our contract, the district does have the right to make these administrative transfers when they see its necessary," she acknowledged. "So many of the Local 99 members, because they have this deep connection to the school, want to return to Miramonte."

And they want the guarantee in writing.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Condes, who has kids in LA Unified Schools and writes the blog moms-LA, says parent opinion on Deasy’s action is split.

"One woman said, I would never let my kid go back to that school if they hadn’t done this," Condes recalls. "It’s a waiting game for now. The superintendent hasn’t said how long Miramonte Elementary’s employees will be off-site. Until he decides, they’ll be in Purgatory-type limbo."

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