As Miramonte Elementary School staff members rallied today in front of the unopened South L.A. campus where they have been placed for the last few months, parents and their kids came out to support their teachers Thursday.
Maria Guzman, a mother of second and fourth grade girls at Miramonte School, stood along 60th Street. She and her daughters all sported white t-shirts to symbolize the innocence of the staff. Guzman's t-shirt had writing in black marker that said, "We are here to support the innocent teachers and staff from Miramonte Elementary."
On the back it read, "They're not prisoners they're workers."
"It's not right what they did with them," Guzman said today after she heard the teachers give their first public statements in three months. "Just because two teachers did something bad, the rest of them shouldn't have to pay for it."
She said both of her daughters found strangers instructing them at the school when they went to class in February. Her 10-year-old daughter has behavior problems and Guzman said the problems became worse after her teacher was removed. Guzman said she spent many days in the classroom to make sure they are doing OK in school.
Guzman said the teachers shouldn't be at the unopened Augustus F. Hawkins High School, where they currently spend their days.
"They've got the credential to teach," Guzman said, "not to be in a school with no students."
Another parent showed up with her brood of four kids today to support their kindergarten teacher. The kids had made a sign, "We want are [sic] teachers back." They shyly stood amid the media horde after teachers delivered their statement.
"It's made me want to go back" to the school, said the Miramonte Elementary School kindergarten teacher, who declined to give her name out of fear it would prevent her return to the classroom. She has taught at the school for 17 years, nearly the entirety of her 18 years with L.A. Unified.
The teacher wore a bright yellow Miramonte Elementary student t-shirt and was continuously surrounded by a different former student or parent who gave her a big hug. "I miss my students," she said.
She returned to the South L.A. elementary school Wednesday because the track D school year had ended. "They jumped out of thei seats and ran to me," she said. "They were upset, and asked what took me so long to come back to talk to them. They were telling me they missed me, and I told them I missed them more."
"I told them to come back and visit me."
The kindergarten teacher had some of the kids' parents in her class years earlier, and had been excited to teach their children this year.
"I hope that whatever comes out of this is the best for our students..." she said. The teacher said she heard from a lot of parents and that "a lot of my children did not do well, they had a lot of emotional issues. Some parents remained with their kids in the classroom because the kids didn't want to go to school to complete strangers."
As for herself, she'd received her letter telling her she was "cleared" Tuesday and was hoping to find out when she could return to her "home" at Miramonte Elementary.
As she discussed returning home, she hugged her daughter who was holding her nephew, and said a few words to her sister who had joined her while providing her with support through the last few months.
More students and parents approached for hugs.
In the background, music started to play as people cleared out.
"I can see clearly now, the rain has come..."