Kim Baldonado, Scott Spiro
The scandal at at Miarmonte Elementary School may have some unforeseen consequences. Some local immigrant families are faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to speak out, while fearing the possible risk of deportation.
Sweeping changes to the school staff at Miramonte Elementary School left many children without their favorite teacher, and many parents are angry and frustrated with district officials.
But many of these families choose to remain silent.
Immigrant families are faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to speak up in the aftermath of the school’s teacher abuse scandal. The Blanco family is one of them.
Sergio Blanco, 41 years old, said he and his wife, Marisela, consider themselves and their five boys an American one.
"We’re Latinos, normal people," said Marisela Blanco.
The Blancos are a typical family for the neighborhood surrounding Miramonte Elementary School, where their son Andres, 9, is a third-grader.
Andres said he is sad that his favorite teacher, Mr. Avilar, no longer works there.
"When we do something like work, he makes it fun," said Andres Blanco.
Most of Andres’ peers at school are Latino. Beyond their class load, many of the student bear the burden of helping their parents to learn English, just like Andres.
Without a grasp of the language, some families said this child abuse scandal and new teachers and administrators taking over the school, leaves them confused.
The Blancos tell NBC4 News that, for every parent in the neighborhood speaking out, they know countless others who will not.
"They think something is going to happen, like the immigration will come to get them," said Marisela Blanco.
Sergio said he will never let the fear of getting deported stop him from sticking up for his American boys.
But Sergeant Dan Scott of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department said families don't have to be worried about their immigration status.
"During our briefing with the Sheriff yesterday, he made sure that it was clear that the immigration status of anybody involved in this case, any child, any parent, anybody coming forward is not to be an issue," said Scott. "He did not mix words. He let us know that he is adamant about this, and we are following our Sheriff's orders."