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Miramonte School sex abuse scandal: Was replacing entire staff too extreme? (+video)

Students at the Miramonte School, which was rocked by allegations that two teachers sexually abused children, return to a newly staffed school Thursday. Some parents and education experts say L.A. overreacted.

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LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy spent Monday meeting with teachers, parents, and then the press, where he explained that the investigation of such allegations would be disruptive and the staff would need support. He cautioned against stigmatizing the entire staff.

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“I am outraged, disgusted,” Mr. Deasy said, according to the local ABC affiliate. “I can’t have any more surprises at Miramonte, even though the police will do what they have to do. And if there are no more, thank God. We deal with the horror and the tragedy I have already. And if there are more, then we will have to deal with that.”

Many parents who object to the decision are organizing a petition to fight it. “They don’t want all the teachers to be removed because there are some very good teachers and the students get good grades with those teachers,” parent Armando Medel told KABC.

The strategy sets a bad example, says criminal defense attorney Christopher Leibig, who adds, “This sets a very negative precedent in terms of workplace fairness.” He says that the idea of one or two allegations resulting in an entire community being switched, “lacks balance. I would hope that in the interest of justice this would not stand.”

The need for the LAUSD to restore public confidence is extremely important, says Jolie Logan, CEO of Darkness to Light, a Charleston, S.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse. But, she adds, creating a public forum for addressing the issue of child sexual abuse is also important, as it can help prevent future incidents.

[Editor's Note: The original version of this story reported that Darkness of Light was based in Washington, D.C.]

“LAUSD would be wise to follow the lead of other school districts nationwide,” she says via email, pointing to the South Carolina Department of Education, “which has pledged to train 100 percent of its teachers, administrators, staff, and workforce with specialized curriculum aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.”

To date, she notes, more than 50 percent of South Carolina teachers and staff have completed the training.

“LAUSD is yet another sordid example,” she says, following the recent scandals at Penn State and Syracuse, where the details of the allegations got more coverage than the solutions offered to prevent future abuses.

“Prevention education is the only way to bring about systemic change to end such abuse,” she says, adding that training “takes one of society’s most difficult subjects and brings it to a public forum, encouraging public dialogue. The more adults know about prevention, the more we talk openly, the better we are all prepared to protect kids.”

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