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LA Unified spokesman responds to critique of Miramonte supervision

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UTLA President Warren Fletcher said today that L.A. Unified's "failure of supervision" led to a situation where a lone principal supervised more than 1,400 students without assistant principals at Miramonte Elementary School, where two teachers have been accused of sexual misconduct with children.

"No matter how good that principal was, he would have had to be in track shoes to be able to effectively monitor the school," Fletcher told KPCC. "Monitoring instruction and making sure that children are safe isn’t just about procedures and maximizing the number of firings. It’s about getting it right in advance so students are protected in advance."

But district spokesman Thomas Waldman said Miramonte Elementary School is a year-round school so there were never 1,400 students on campus at any one time; only about 900 students.

"That's a consequence of budget cuts, that's not something we want to do," Waldman said. "But going back about four years we had to cut the assistant principals."

Waldman said the school qualified for extra funding that could have paid for an assistant principal, because of its high student population, "but chose to spend the money on other personnel."

"This was a decision made at the local school level, and I'm sure whatever positions they funded were desperately needed," Waldman said. "But for Mr. Fletcher to suggest on AirTalk that it's solely the responsibility of the principal to report on bad teachers seems to be an abdication of responsibility. It's everybody's responsbility to keep an eye on these things."

L.A. Unified's Board of Education will vote Tuesday on two resolutions to change employee discipline procedures after a spate of sexual misconduct reports have rocked the district over the last months.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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