Los Angeles News
Miramonte plaintiffs want 2013 trial; LAUSD's 2014 trial request rejected
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The families of students allegedly abused at Miramonte Elementary School are pressing ahead with their demand for a trial. There was a court organizing session Tuesday as they move toward a trial.
"It's heartbreaking for me and my husband to realize that suddenly she had a flashback -- she is still scared," said "Maria," mother of one of the alleged molestation victims.
Emotions are so fragile, Maria keeps the Miramonte ordeal secret even from relatives. She says the experience with alleged molester Mark Berndt, a teacher at the school, unraveled her daughter, then the whole family.
She says they want to proceed to trial despite the $470,000 that LAUSD awarded to each of 58 other claimants in a settlement earlier this month.
"It's hard waking up every day and seeing your kid's heart broken," said Maria.
It's more than the cookies allegedly laced with semen, she says. Berndt was so friendly, he was at school to play games with students even during his vacation.
"That was her favorite teacher," said Maria.
LAUSD attorneys said the settlement would spare the children from testifying in a prolonged trial.
"In the students' best interest, still protects the public trust, and does something to help heal the community, I think, is in everybody's best interest," said LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist when the settlements were announced.
But for the plaintiffs who were not part of the settlement, they will have a longer wait ahead. The plaintiffs came to court Tuesday aiming for a trial date late this year. LAUSD pursued a date for a year later, in 2014. The later datewas rejected.
LAUSD offered another option to plaintiffs to return to settlement talks.
"We are still open and willing and happy to sit down with them," said Sean Rossall, a spokesman for the LAUSD Office of General Counsel.
Plaintiffs reject the invitations saying they want further reforms at LAUSD.
"Closure. We want closure for the kids," said Luis Carrillo, attorney for some of the plaintiffs in the case who did not take the settlement.
Maria says it was her daughter who rejected settling out of court.
"But this is what she tells me: 'I have to do something. Something has to change. My little brother is still there.' She feels like she has to protect him and the rest of the kids the way somebody didn't do it to them."
lausd, legal, los angeles news, miriam hernandez
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