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Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
When Los Angeles Unified removed two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School amid accusations they'd molested children, the school district also removed the entire teaching and support staff from the campus. For many of them, Tuesday was the first day back in the classroom after six months of district-imposed exile, forbidden from student contact.
Andrea Shaffer and 75 of her colleagues were among them. For months they spent their workdays at a nearby high school passing the time in limbo as they waited to be cleared. On her first day back on the job, I asked Andrea a few questions.
What does it feel like to be back?
Shaffer: "Fabulous! I’ve been in this area for about 12 years. I know a lot of families, and so, I just feel like I’m back home. I started bringing a car-load of boxes last Wednseday. I’ve been working very hard to get books up on the shelf and things cleaned up and everything in order."
What was it like to sit in an empty school (Augusts F. Hawkins High School) month after month, with no student contact?
Shaffer: "It was trudging, it was boring, it was difficult. But thankfully, we got through it."
So, no hard feelings about the way things unfolded with the district last year?
Shaffer: "Sort of, but it doesn’t matter, you know? It’s done! We’re here and I’m just thrilled to be back."
In all, 42 teachers returned to Miramonte for the first day of school. About 10 others found jobs at one of the district’s 20 newly constructed schools - Lawrence Moore Elementary – about a half-mile from Miramonte.