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8-Year-Old Assaulted at School

September 29, 1996

United Teachers Los Angeles is very concerned over the situation at 59th Street School (Sept. 19). UTLA is flabbergasted that a student who had been arrested for a violent act against one student at the school should have had the opportunity to attack a second student.

In 1989, UTLA successfully lobbied for a law that made it mandatory for school districts to inform teachers when students with a history of violence are placed in our classrooms. This law was more honored in the breach than in its application. As a result, in 1993 we successfully amended this law to make it a misdemeanor for a principal to knowingly not inform a teacher when a violent student is placed in a classroom.

This law was in effect when the second student was attacked at 59th Street School. The very reason that UTLA sponsored both laws was to protect our members and our students. Until people who fail to live up to these important safety laws are held accountable, the possibility of more tragedies in our schools continues.

JOHN PEREZ

NEA Vice President

UTLA

The Sept. 20 editorial, "A Moral Lapse for the LAUSD," was chilling. This sentence, in particular, has implications far beyond the criminal assault on the little boy: "It (the LAUSD) took pains to portray the victim as a boy who preferred to play so-called girls' games."

The idea that a little boy could be subjected to such an assault is frightening, but more frightening is the idea that if a boy is sensitive or likes nonviolent or noncompetitive games (girls' games), he is a potential victim for any brutal and/or psychotic bully. What is worse is that because the child is sensitive, the system will brand the little victim as either inviting the violence or liking the attention.

GILDA FRANTZ

Santa Monica

Your editorial erroneously belittles the reputation of a highly dedicated and successful educator.

It was my personal and professional good fortune to work with Harry Stovall for five years at 59th Street School. During that time, Stovall always impressed me as an extremely devoted and principled individual and as an ardent advocate for the interests of the children of Los Angeles.

Stovall is a valuable asset to this school district. In your efforts to convey the seriousness of the molestation decision this fact should not be overlooked.

SCOTT A. LOVE

Westchester

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