Los Angeles News

Crenshaw High choir director placed on leave by LAUSD following trip

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Crenshaw High School teacher, who is beloved by students and parents, is currently in hot water after taking students on an unsanctioned field trip.

The district has suspended Iris Stevenson, with pay, as it investigates the incident.

After nearly 30 years of guiding the choir to world-class status, the Los Angeles Unified School District summarily yanked Stevenson from the music department at the end of last year.

"This community is in outrage over it," said civil rights activist Celes King IV.

King is taking up Stevenson's cause because Stevenson won't discuss the circumstances surrounding her reassignment and ongoing LAUSD investigation.

King says Stevenson is being punished because she took the choir to perform in France and on the way back, they sang for President Obama at the White House.

But King says while Stevenson had permission from parents, she didn't get approval from the school district.

"The parents decided that they wanted their children to take this trip. When they returned to Los Angeles, Ms. Stevenson was told that she was persona non grata on the campus of Crenshaw High School and she was to report to teacher jail," said King.

Globetrotting trips are common for the Crenshaw High School Elite Choir who has traveled the world performing and winning several awards. Stevenson rattled off just a few places where the students performed on invitation.

"France, Austria, Belgium, Korea, Spain," said Stevenson. "In every country, we sing in that particular language."

In a press release, the L.A. Unified School District said since this is a personnel matter, the facts of the case must remain confidential and that its investigation could take several months.

Former choir members say the school district needs to put Stevenson back with the choir immediately.

"The removal from her classroom was unwarranted and unjust, but she needs to return to her rightful place," said former Crenshaw High School Elite Choir member Vanity Brown.

Students and community members will be staging a rally to show support for Stevenson outside of Crenshaw High School Friday at 7:30 a.m.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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