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New Miramonte principal wants to help school return to normalcy

February 9, 2012 |  3:34 pm


Classes ended Thursday at scandal-plagued Miramonte Elementary School and students spilled into the street, smiling and walking hand-in hand with their parents.

Off to the side, colored flags roped off the lawn to prevent people from gathering as many have in the last two weeks after the arrests of two teachers in alleged lewd activity with pupils.

“I really want to help the school get back into a semblance of normalcy,” said new Principal Dolores Palacio, who came out of retirement to head Miramonte. “There are teachers here who are anxious to be here. We know what we are here for. We know it’s about the children and the parents and it’s not about us."

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The administrator has been with the Los Angeles Unified School district for 18 years, spending a decade as principal of Mar Vista Elementary School in Mar Vista. She retired in 2004 before transitioning into an administrative role training other principals.

Palacio acknowledged the transition at Miramonte would take a while but said she was dedicated to her mission in getting the school back to normal.

"Today is a lot of ‘getting to know each other’ activities," she said. "The new teachers are picking up right where the other ones left off."

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Community members, including parents who questioned the qualifications of the newcomers, can be assured their children will get the education they need, she said.

"These teachers were laid off because of the budget crisis in the past... not because of their experience," Palacio said. "All of them were investigated and reviewed and their personnel folders were examined. They are all qualified and experienced."

Miramonte students will have bilingual social workers available throughout the year, Palacio said, and parents are allowed to stay inside the classroom or outside the door until their children are comfortable.

"We expect to be more vigilant than in the past," she said as she explained her reasons for coming out of retirement to help the community. “It looked like a nice community, the parents are wonderful. What happened was no fault of the parents or children. If I could do something to help, even just work, I was happy to do it."


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-- Angel Jennings at Miramonte Elementary School

Photo: Principal Dolores Palacio looks into a classroom on Thursday as classes resumed at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times