Los Angeles News
LAUSD: Entire faculty of Miramonte Elementary to be removed
SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The entire faculty at Miramonte Elementary School will be removed while the school district investigates allegations of lewd conduct by two teachers, the Los Angeles school superintendent announced Monday night.
Superintendent John Deasy told parents and media that staffers are being replaced because a full investigation of allegations is disruptive and staffers require support to get through the scandal, too.
Everyone from custodians to the principal will be removed.
An entire staff has been trained to come into classrooms at Miramonte to take over teaching for the time being, and there will be a psychiatric social worker in every classroom to help students and staff cope with any issues.
"I am outraged, disgusted," Deasy said. "I can't have any more surprises at Miramonte, even though the police will do what they have to do. And if there are no more, thank God. We deal with the horror and the tragedy I have already. And if there are more, then we will have to deal with that."
Not all parents are happy with the decision.
"They don't want all the teachers to be removed because there are some very good teachers and the students get good grades with those teachers," said parent Armando Medel.
Faculty members will be relocated to a school that's under construction and do not have students yet.
Angry parents demanded answers on how the Los Angeles Unified School District is handling the alleged sex crimes against students.
Teachers Martin Bernard Springer and Mark Berndt were arrested on lewd conduct charges.
Springer, 49, allegedly fondled two girls in his class over the last three years.
Springer's arrest came four days after former teacher Berndt was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on his students. Investigators said he blindfolded children and fed them his semen and put cockroaches on some of their faces.
The investigation began after Berndt, a teacher at the school for 30 years, tried to develop photos, and a film processor turned them over to police.
Many parents said they want to know how the alleged acts happened during school hours.
"It seems like [school officials] are sweeping everything under the rug and they're just trying to blame it on everybody else except themselves or they're trying to point fingers," said one parent.
Sylvia Reyes said her grandson had a nightmare about Springer after students say he yelled at them last week.
Reyes said Springer demanded the kids be quiet or he'd kill them.
"Then my grandson said, 'Are you going to kill me?' He said 'Just kidding,'" Reyes said.
Reyes and others went to the school Monday morning to find out if they can pull their children out of Miramonte, but many said they wouldn't know where to send their kids at this point in the school year.
Parents are also in a bind because children keep asking why Springer and Berndt are no longer teaching.
The school will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday to help with the criminal probe as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District's internal investigation.
Parents of several alleged victims are already taking legal action. Some victims said they told a school counselor about the alleged abuse, but they weren't taken seriously and were reportedly told, "It's not very good to make stories up."
Attorneys for the victims said the school and the district failed to protect the students.
"Rather than take the steps to protect these kids, rather than making sure the door is open, make sure that there's a monitor, check to see that he's doing things properly, interview some of the students...what they did is they sanitized his file," said attorney Raymond P. Boucher. "They took those complaints out and trashed them, so that the next time a complaint happened or took place, nobody knew anything about it."
Another attorney for an alleged victim, Luis Carillo, said he's filing claims and intends to file a civil lawsuit against the LAUSD seeking unspecified damages.
"At the end of the day, I just want to see somebody fired, somebody disciplined, because they fell asleep at the wheel. They failed to protect our children," Carillio said.
The school board is expected to call for the firing of Springer on Tuesday. But under California law, neither the board nor the superintendent can fire a teacher. The case has to go before an administrative law judge and a three-teacher panel. During the process, Springer would be placed on paid administrative leave. Berndt was fired in March 2011 shortly after his investigation began.
Even if the two men are convicted of the crimes, they would still receive their pensions under state law.
In a statement Monday, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia said the district is appalled and devastated to learn of the allegations.
"The Board is thankful, confident, and supportive of how Superintendent John Deasy is handling the situation," the statement said. "The Board has directed Superintendent Deasy to continue to work diligently with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, LAUSD's Crisis Counseling Intervention Services and other agencies to provide the necessary support to parents and students affected."
In 2008, a teacher's aide at Miramonte Early Education Center was convicted of inappropriately touching three girls in 2002-2003.
The district admitted liability before the trial. The girls were awarded $1.6 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
school, arrest, sex crimes, los angeles news
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