LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A teacher who was removed from his elementary school classroom for alleged inappropriate behavior with his fourth grade students has a warning for other teachers Thursday.
Charles Manzanares, an 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was removed from his classroom at 6th Avenue Elementary Tuesday after a student alleged that the teacher often engaged in inappropriate behavior.
Thursday, he spoke to CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Suraya Fadel and defended himself against the allegations.
He had a message for other teachers: “be careful. Just be careful.”
Fadel also talked to one of the teacher’s students. The student claimed Manzanares would ask the kids to give him massages. “He puts his chair out and says ‘Come on boy, give me a massage,” said the student. “It happens every day.”
Manzanares insists it is all very innocent. “The kids want to do this– they like beating on my back. And that is as far as it goes. I never touched a kid.”
When told that is not correct, Manzanares said, “After they explained to me, that it was not correct, I tried to correct the kids.”
The boy’s mother is outraged and doesn’t want Manzanares back at 6th Avenue Elementary. Manzanares believes this is about his complaining about the student’s attendance.
Manzanares, a father and grandfather, is removed from his classroom for three days while the LAPD and LA Unified complete an investigation. Earlier Thursday, Fadel spoke to a parent who insisted Manzanares did nothing wrong. That parent suggested the teacher has an open-door policy and encourages parents to drop in unannounced. She believed the teacher was targeted by the student because he has a reputation for being strict.
The embattled teacher told Fadel he gave the police total permission “to search through my house freely.”
She asked him if the allegations bother him. “Yes. I am human. It does bother me.”
Manzanares wants to return to the classroom but doesn’t necessarily need to return to his classroom. “I would go for a change,” he says, “maybe a fresh open door. And time for me to close this door.”