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L.A. elementary school's entire staff removed during abuse probe

Miramonte Elementary School is seen Jan. 31, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, Jan. 31, 2012 AP Photo

(CBS) LOS ANGELES - L.A. school officials have temporarily replaced the entire staff of the Miramonte Elementary School,  where two teachers have been accused of lewd acts against students.

The Los Angeles Times reports the officials are hoping the move will help quell growing anger by parents. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy announced the changes at a parents meeting Monday night. The meeting was reportedly very tense at times, with some parents even chanting "cover-up" and accusing the school system of not doing enough to protect their children.

"My trust level is at zero," Cassini Quarles, the mother of a third-grader, said outside the meeting.

"I cannot have another student tell me he is afraid," Deasy told parents at the meeting. At a news conference that followed the meeting, he added, "The primary responsibility, bar none, is the safety for our students. Clearly, several instructors have violated the most sacred trust we have."

"How is it conceivably possible that this could take place ... and [administrators] didn't know or say anything is what I'm trying to understand," he said. "And of course, I recognize that I'm trying to do it from a very far distance."

The staff removal is an attempt to rebuild eroding community confidence as investigators continue to probe the case. More than a quarter of the students at the elementary school were kept home Monday by their parents.

"We intend to interview every adult...who works at that school, whether they are a teacher or administrator, or whether they are an after-school playground worker or a custodian or a secretary. I mean every single solitary adult who works at Miramonte," Deasy said to parents who packed a high school gymnasium.

Monday night, some parents applauded the removal of the school's staff as a good first step. Officials stressed that no other educators at the school are under suspicion, but they said a bold act was needed.

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 meantime, their places will be filled by teachers and other workers already on a rehiring list.

The school's staff will continue to be paid and for the time being will move to a nearby campus under construction, officials said. The school will be closed for the next two days during the transition.

Complete coverage of Miramonte Elementary School on Crimesider

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