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Students Protest Teacher Job Cuts In Montebello, Bell Gardens

MONTEBELLO ( — Students from Schurr High School in Montebello and Bell Gardens High School held protests Thursday morning and evening to denounce the impending layoffs of several hundred teachers.

Outside Schurr High School, students lined a corner carrying signs that said, "No To Pink Slips" and "Might as well take our Books," as they shouted "Where's our money, where's our money?"

The Montebello Unified school board voted Monday to lay off 235 teachers, 89 support staff members and 9 administrators.

For months, the Montebello Unified School District has been accused of corruption and bad financial management as it faces a $17 million budget cut.

"Somehow money was mismanaged. It was lost, unaccounted for. And now, the teachers are paying a price," said chemistry teacher Mario Rizo.

"They should really investigate. And obviously, there should be some type of justice - whether it's firing someone or something," said Bell Gardens High School Alumni Lucia Hernandez. "I don't think it's fair for the kids to be affected because in the end, that's who's being affected not them [the school district]."

The district also has been accused of corruption and sloppy spending. Much of the criticism is directed at the district's chief business officer, Ruben Rojas.

"It not only affects the moral for students; it affects the efficiency that they have in their classrooms," Gabriel Ramos said.

The district blames previous school boards, state budget cuts and a drop in student enrollment for the layoffs.

They issued this statement: "While we are encouraged by our students exercising their voices and supporting their teachers via civic engagement, we are disappointed that some special interests have purposely mislead our students on the real budget issues impacting the District."

Thursday's night regular school board meeting was cancelled. But a closed door meeting was held between union representatives and school board members.

Earlier this month, students walked out of classrooms following a previous school board decision to cut 468 jobs in the district.

It's not clear if the latest job cuts are on top of the number previously put to a vote.

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