LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Alumni rallied outside Crenshaw High School Thursday, demanding to know why a popular choir director hasn’t been allowed to teach since December.
Iris Stevenson, a fixture at the school since 1985, takes students on trips to places like France, Japan and Austria and led the choir as they performed for President Obama this past December.
But alumni and choir volunteer Vanity Brown says when they returned, Ms. Stevenson was told she wouldn’t be allowed in the classroom for at least 120 days.
Brown gathered with fellow alumni Thursday looking for answers.
“She’s touched lives of inner-city children around the world and to kill that off for no reason is unjust,” she told KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold.
Brown has known Ms. Stevenson for 16 years and says although she hasn’t officially been fired, Stevenson isn’t allowed on campus.
Alex Caputo-Pearl is on the board of directors for United Teachers Los Angeles. He says the district shouldn’t keep teachers like Ms. Stevenson from the classroom.
“It continues a trend of removing, disproportionately, over 40 years of age teachers from schools with no explanation and putting them in this place called ‘teacher jail,'” he said.
Choir mom Robin Scurlock lent her voice the the protest.
“This has been the first semester of the new visual and performing arts magnet, so for her not to be able to sing or anything – she’s just sitting there,” she said.
Former student Goward Horton says Ms. Stevenson is a mentor and role model – and he wants her back.
“She goes well beyond what a teacher would do. She’s a mother to a lot of these students. A lot of them didn’t have food or their parents weren’t there for them. Ms Stevenson was there for them,” Horton said.
In the meantime, Brown says Ms. Stevenson has to report to the so-called “teacher jail” – a district office downtown where she sits and waits everyday.
School officials declined to say why Ms. Stevenson isn’t being allowed on campus when contacted by KCAL9. A spokesperson would only say that it’s a personnel matter.