Miramonte Elementary School teachers who were transferred out in the wake of a sex abuse scandal spoke out Thursday afternoon about their time working at a yet-to-be opened high school across town.
The teachers have been quiet during the ordeal, even warned by union officials not to speak out for fear of retaliation.
"It was surreal and I thought to myself what did I do to deserve this? We were kept in the dark," one former Miramonte teacher said. "I found myself having to dress up just to raise my spirits and feel like I was going to work."
Even though the reassigned teachers came forward Thursday, they would not identify themselves as they read anonymous statements, written and drafted by former Miramonte Elementary teachers.
"I no longer tell people I am a teacher. Until very recently I was proud to be one. I still am sort of in my own quiet way," another former Miramonte teacher said through tears.
The words represent the collective voice of nearly 90 teachers and a total of 128 staffers who were transferred to the high school under construction in February after the arrest of two former teachers on charges of sexual abuse against students.
It's the first time they have come forward following the move by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. Deasy has previously said he took the unprecedented move to try and preserve the integrity of the sex abuse investigation.
In an interview with NBC4's Conan Nolan, Deasy defended his decision.
The 128 former Miramonte employees reported to work at Hawkins in February where they were assigned to receive counseling, be interviewed by officials investigating abuse allegations at their former school, and prepare school lessons.
Faculty and staff were not to have contact with children during their time at the 15-acre campus, which is still under construction and is expected to open this fall.
The teachers are expected to go back to Miramonte next year, if there are positions for them.
"They were moved out with a staff of 85. Next year they'll be returning to a site with a staff of 45, so we have an outstanding number of teachers that are now left having to interview for jobs," said Ingrid Villeda, UTLA South Area chair.
LAUSD would not comment on the incident despite repeated requests.
After reports about the scandal broke, Miramonte was shut down for two days, but students returned Feb. 9.
UTLA protested the transfer along with parents, saying it would have damaging effects on their children’s academic progress and is unfair to teachers who did nothing wrong.
UTLA has filed a grievance on behald of the teachers.