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Parents, Teachers Protest How LAUSD Handled School Closures During Saddle Ridge Fire

GRANADA HILLS (CBSLA) — Parents and teachers rallied Tuesday outside of a Granada Hills school to protest how Los Angeles Unified School District handled school closures during the devastating Saddle Ridge Fire.

Those in attendance were upset over unhealthy conditions inside school classrooms, saying some were covered in ash and smelled of smoke.

"All of the buildings just smelled disgusting," one seventh grade student said at the rally.

Because of the fire, the school was closed Friday, but teachers and students were summoned back as early as Monday morning.

"When we walked into the classroom, it was an overwhelming stench of damp fire, dirty ash," said Special Education teacher Lisa Bennett. "There was ash on the floor."

The group was aksing LAUSD to put a clear policy in place so that parents, teachers, and students know what to expect the next time a fire roars through the area.

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said it all boils down to three simple requests.

"The school district should close schools when they need to be closed That didn't happen on Friday," he said. "The school district should keep schools closed until they are clean. That didn't happen on Monday."

He went on to say, "There needs to be a plan developed with the community, with students, with parents, with educators, for what the exact protocols and expectations are when there are fires."

LAUSD responded by saying clean-up crews worked through the weekend and returned Monday night to make sure the classrooms were safe for kids.

The district said in a statement, "Los Angeles Unified will continue to work with our public-safety partners in monitoring fire and air quality conditions and will take appropriate actions based on the most current information provided to us."

As of Tuesday morning, the fire was 45 percent contained and had burned 8,391 acres.

The fire damaged or destroyed up to 94 acres.

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