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Union accepts district assurance that teachers can return to Miramonte

UTLA president Warren Fletcher holds a news conference in front of Miramonte Elementary in South Los Angeles last week as LAUSD replced the staff of the school with an all-new slate of teachers and administrators as well as custodians and cafeteria workers. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles teachers union has backed off from its claim that teachers transferred from Miramonte Elementary School won’t be allowed to return upon completion of an investigation into alleged child abuse.

The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, had said Thursday that it was planning to file grievances to protect the rights and reputations of teachers who have done nothing wrong.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy quickly responded that innocent Miramonte teachers would have the opportunity to return. And the union, for now, has accepted this assurance in an undated statement posted on its website.

The back-and-forth follows Deasy’s announcement Monday that he was temporarily replacing the entire staff of Miramonte, one of the nation’s largest elementary schools. The teachers were to report to a new high school campus that has not yet opened. Their replacements are teachers who had been waiting to be rehired after layoffs.

The school closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and reopened Thursday with the new staff.

On Thursday morning, union President Warren Fletcher joined parents and students at the school to protest the removal of the teachers. Union officials still insist that senior district administrators had told them the former Miramonte staff would never return. But they also welcomed Deasy’s clarification.

Miramonte Elementary, in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles, has become the focus of national attention since the arrest this month of former teacher Mark Berndt. The veteran instructor is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blind-folded students in his classroom. He is being held in lieu of $23-million bail.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher holds a news conference in front of Miramonte Elementary School last week. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

 
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