Miramonte Elementary School teachers speak about their removal from their classrooms after two teachers were arrested on charges of misconduct with students. (May 2, 2012)
As the crowd dissipated today after an emotional march and press conference, one Miramonte Elementary School teacher stood along 60th Street in South L.A. and spoke nervously about what it was like to not only be removed from the classroom but to receive a preliminary pink slip during that time.
The teacher, who instructed a fifth grade intervention class, has taught at L.A. Unified for eight years. The last time she was in the classroom with her students was in December, when the track went off for their break. When the students returned in February, they found an entirely new staff.
"It hurts, it's awful," she said. "...What hurts the most [is] this special class of students needed consistency, routine, someone they can trust. They took that away from them and that's the hardest part."
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."
Miramonte Elementary School teachers made their first public comments today during a march and press conference in front of a South L.A. high school where they have been placed for the last three months as officials conducted an investigation into two teachers arrested on charges of misconduct with students.
The staff members, fearful that giving their personal accounts would jeopardize their ability to return to their classrooms, collectively voted on three statements written among them to present anonymously.
One teacher related feeling "shocked and numb" at having to leave the school in early February during two pupil free days they had to relocate. "I was expected to pack up 10 years in two days," the teacher said. "I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, sadness, anger...anxiety, fear."
Nearly 100 people, including dozens of Miramonte Elementary School teachers, marched alongside parents and students outside an unopened South L.A. high school where the educators have been placed for nearly three months, demanding their return to their classrooms.
Wearing the blue and yellow t-shirts of Miramonte school students and white ribbons to symbolize their innocence, the teachers chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, where should all the teachers go? Miramonte's where we need to go." They held signs that said "Miramonte is our home" and "Bring back our innocent Miramonte staff" while cars honked in support as they drove down Hoover Street.
Roughly 120 staffers, including about 85 teachers, were removed from their classrooms Feb. 9 as part of an investigation into two teachers arrested for lewd acts on children and placed at Augustus F. Hawkins High School. L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy said it was a drastic but necessary step to ensure the safety to children. But union officials say the superintendent went too far.
Miramonte Elementary School teachers have been placed at Augustus F. Hawkins High School campus, which remains unopened and under construction, since Feb. 9 after two teachers were arrested for alleged misconduct with students.
Dozens of Miramonte Elementary School teachers will be marching around a South L.A. high school at 3:30 p.m. before giving their first public statement in months about their removal from campus where two teachers were arrested for alleged misconduct with students.
Half-a-dozen television trucks and other media sat outside Augustus F. Hawkins High School where the teachers have been placed since Feb. 9 when L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy ordered the removal of the entire staff as part of an investigation into the two separate cases of alleged misconduct. The staff was replaced by new teachers in all the classrooms as well as counselors.
Deasy said it was necessary to take such drastic action to ensure the safety of kids and conduct a comprehensive review. He said Wednesday that investigation was ongoing. UTLA President Warren Fletcher has spoken strongly against the move and called it an "overreaction" by the district especially during a tight budget year.