LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of students walked out their classrooms in Montebello Thursday to protest the potential firing of hundreds of teachers.
The students marched to Montebello Unified School District headquarters chanting, “Yes to students. No to layoffs!”
Some students spoke at a meeting with administrators to protest a recent school board decision to cut 468 jobs in the district, many of which would be teachers’ jobs.
“They dedicated their lives to helping us and you guys are just going to lay them off?” Naomi Guzman, a sophomore, said at the meeting.
The district has for months been accused of corruption and mismanaging money, the Whittier Daily News reported.
The budget is short by $17 million by some estimates.
Last month, the school board voted to cut hundreds of employees in order to reach a budget. If the district does not make drastic cuts, the state could take over the district, a district spokesman told the LA Times.
The district issued a statement Thursday accusing the teachers’ union of organizing the student protest.
“We are disappointed that some special interests have encouraged our students to participate in the walkout today in a deliberate attempt to influence the board in its discussions over a challenging budget,” the district said in the statement.
Two student organizers disputed the district’s characterization, saying they participated on their own accord.
Many teachers and other opponents of the austerity plan joined the students in their protest Thursday afternoon.
At a board meeting Thursday evening, KCAL9’s Peter Daut said things got heated.
Demonstrators demanded answers about the accusations of corruption and mismanagement of funds.
“The district is not spending our money wisely,” said student Edward Lopez.
School board member Joanna Flores said the district is looking at different alternatives to layoffs.
“We’re confident that if we do have reductions,” she said, “they’re going to be a minimum.”
State lawmakers this week sent the district a letter requesting the state do a complete audit.