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Parents protest Mid-City principal's teacher changes

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Parents held a protest at Carthay Center Elementary school in Mid-Wilshire Monday - and said they'll keep making noise until the district removes the principal and keeps staffing constant for next year.

The flap is over what the school's PTA said is a move by a first-year principal to transfer or fire seven of the small school's 14 teachers.

"For us we feel like these are teachers who have invested in our children. They are really smart and capable, It doesn’t seem fair to let them go," said Kim Silverstein, a parent of a Carthay kindergartener.

Principal Crystal Campbell-Shirley did not return calls for comment and Los Angeles Unified spokesman Tom Waldman said the district wouldn't talk about it because it's a "personnel matter."

Jennifer Dowd-Giuliano, parent of a second grader, says the school has struggled for years with declining enrollment and loss of funds.  

She says parents have worked nights and weekends to improve Carthay, organizing fundraisers, supporting a school garden program and working toward magnet status to attract more students.

Carthay is transitioning to an Environmental Studies magnet next year. Some parents think that sparked the staff changes.

"When she made this decision, it really was a shock for the whole community and everyone involved in bringing the school to a new place," Guiliano said. She worries that without the current teaching team, their vision will begin to unravel.

She and other parents have complained to Campbell-Shirley's supervisor and wrote a letter to Superintendent John Deasy.

Waldman, the district spokesman, said officials may address the situation directly or, in serious cases, launch an investigation.

California also allows parents to oust a school leader by converting it to a charter under "parent trigger" laws.

Other than that, parents have no real way to control staffing at their school.

Carthay's parents hope they can resolve the issue with the district. 

"There is magic in numbers," Guiliano said as she organized parents for after hours meetings. "That's when people really listen to you."