Alleged attack worries parents

first_imgAccording to school officials, the teacher allegedly assaulted the fifth-grade students when they interrupted a physical education activity she was conducting outside with her first-grade class. Several students showed cuts, scratches and bruises they said occurred when the teacher allegedly began hitting and kicking them. Since the alleged incident that took place Feb. 16, the special victims unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating. The unnamed teacher remains on paid administrative leave, school officials said Friday. Meanwhile, Puentes has become the unofficial spokesman for a group of parents whose children say they were attacked by the teacher. Today, the parents plan to meet at Traditions Park in Pico Rivera to discuss the incident and its fallout. PICO RIVERA – Larry Puentes taught his 10-year-old daughter Jazleen to always trust police officers, firefighters and teachers. But that changed earlier this month. Puentes says he felt at a loss when Jazleen asked why she and about a dozen fifth-graders at Meller Elementary School were hit and kicked on campus by a first-grade teacher. “I told her sometimes circumstances arise in life. That’s the world of sin we live in,” he said. “But I don’t want her to lose the trust and enthusiasm she has for school. I’ve asked her to go to school and just pray for the best.” Puentes said the parents are concerned that the teacher has not been arrested. El Rancho Unified School District officials say that is a matter for sheriff’s investigators to decide. Superintendent Norbert Genis said the district cannot move forward with any disciplinary action until the investigation is complete. “I know parents want to know what happens to the teacher, but that’s a personnel issue and I’m not at liberty to divulge that,” Genis said. “I don’t know what else we can do, given the pace of the investigation. We need to follow through with this process.” But the parents are angry, Puentes said. “Just because she’s a teacher she’s treated differently? There is a difference between myself and her – she’s a professional. She chose to take care of our children,” he said. “And with the testimonies of 12 to 13 students, possibly up to 20, I think that’s sufficient enough for her arrest, unless the sheriff’s investigators think the children are lying.” Sheriff’s officials have so far declined to comment on the investigation. Genis said parents have asked for a town hall-style meeting to discuss the incident, an idea he is open to, but only after the investigation is complete. In the meantime, Puentes said he and the other parents want to keep the incident at the forefront. Many of the affected parents are Spanish-speakers who feel somewhat intimidated about taking a strong stand, despite what happened to their children. “I’m not highly educated, but I’m not quiet. I’m outspoken. And I have a lot of love for my daughter and the other kids because a lot of them were her best friends,” Puentes said. “My daughter got slapped and slugged three times – and she still feels bad for the teacher,” he added. “But she also knows it wasn’t right for her to be hit by a teacher. And we do, too.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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