SEX ALLEGATIONS SHOCK SCHOOL; INVESTIGATION OF GRANADA HILLS TEACHER CONTINUES.
Detectives were trying Monday to identify other teen-age boys who might have had contact with a Granada Hills High School special education teacher arrested last week on suspicion of having sex with a runaway student, police said.
``There is information there may have been more than one victim. Supposedly there are some previous complaints to LAPD,'' said Sgt. Rick Young, a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department.
``Nobody is telling us they know other boys had sexual contact with her. They know they had a relationship with her. We need to talk to the kids and see.''
Florine Maria Strimel, 35, who taught English at the school, is expected to be arraigned at Glendale Municipal Court today, officials said.
She was arrested Friday on suspicion of having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old student with a learning disability, police and school officials said. Strimel was still in Los Angeles County jail on Monday, held on $265,000 bail. Los Angeles school officials put her on unpaid leave.
At Granada Hills High, teachers, students and administrators reacted with shock.
``I was devastated,'' the school's principal Kathleen Rattay said on Monday, a ``pupil-free day'' for accreditation preparation.
``Some of the students held her in high regard. . . . We are startled and stunned. And we are concerned about the students' reactions.''
Crisis counselors will be available today.
The boy told police that he had been dating his teacher for a month and ran away from home on Wednesday because he was having trouble communicating with his parents, Young said.
He paged Strimel on Wednesday, looking for a place to stay, Young said. She returned the page and allowed him to stay at her rented Salem Street home in Glendale. The student returned to school Friday and was questioned by police.
Young said the boy had also run away to Strimel's home for a four-day period in February.
Residents have been calling police since the arrest was made public.
``We have received numerous phone calls. In the last five years, several people are saying they know she was with this boy or that boy,'' Young said.
A few students walking near the school said they were shocked by the arrest of the teacher, described as popular among some students.
``She was pretty cool to hang out with,'' said Alyson Unger, who formerly attended the high school, but is now enrolled at West Granada High, a continuation school.
She knew how to relate to students and worked with them individually, students said. One student said the teacher manicured one female student's nails for homecoming. Another female student said she hung out in Strimel's class during lunch or to ditch a class.
Strimel's special education class sizes of 10 to 15 students made it more conducive to work in small groups, said another student, Becky Hager, who occasionally had Strimel as a substitute teacher.
``She acted cool to the students. . . . She would pay a lot of attention to each student.''
Strimel joined the Los Angeles Unified School District as a substitute teacher in February 1994, said Socorro Serrano, a spokeswoman for the district. She became an emergency credentialed English teacher at Granada Hills High in September.
As an emergency credential teacher, Strimel underwent the same background checks and fingerprinting as credentialed teachers, Serrano said.