Parents applaud removal of all teachers at troubled L.A. school
Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy said Monday he hopes his decision to temporarily replace the entire staff of an elementary school where two teachers have been accused of lewd acts against students will restore some confidence in the system.
“I cannot have another student tell me he is afraid,” Deasy told parents at a community meeting for Miramonte Elementary families.
At a news conference a few minutes later, he added: “The primary responsibility, bar none, is safety for our students. Clearly, several instructors have violated the most sacred trust we have.”
The staffing shake-up marks a bid to rebuild quickly eroding community confidence as detectives and school officials continued their investigations. More than a quarter of the students enrolled at Miramonte were kept home by their parents Monday.
But Monday night, some parents applauded the removal of the school’s staff as a good first step.
The meeting was tense at times, with some parents chanting “coverup” and accusing the school system of failing to protect their children.
Some parents said they were alarmed by reports that students had complained about one of the accused teachers several times in the last two decades.
“My trust level is at zero,” said Cassini Quarles, the mother of a third-grader, outside the meeting, which was held at a nearby high school.
Officials stressed that no other educators at the school are under suspicion but said a bold act was needed to help remove the cloud over Miramonte.
The school has 150 teachers and administrators and about 1,500 students. The move could be temporary — many, maybe all, of the current staff will be returned to the school eventually, officials said. In the interim, their places will be filled by teachers and other workers already on a re-hiring list.
The Miramonte staff will continue to be paid and for the time being will move to a nearby campus under construction. Miramonte will be closed for the next two days during the transition.
Officials plan to have the new teachers and administrators in place by Thursday. When students return, each will be interviewed by the district, and a psychiatric social worker will be present in every classroom, Deasy said.
--Howard Blume, Sam Allen, Stephen Ceasar and Angel Jennings
Photo: LAPD officers stand guard Monday at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times