Los Angeles district finds 591 cases of alleged teacher misconduct that may warrant more investigation

May 31, 2012
Superintendent ordered review of four years of records after sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary

From The Los Angeles Daily News: Los Angeles Unified School District officials have unearthed 591 cases of alleged teacher misconduct reported over the past four years that they think merit investigation by state regulators. Officials with the state credentialing commission have taken a preliminary look at the cases and say 60 percent warrant formal review. The review was ordered by Superintendent John Deasy after the sex-abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary triggered questions about the district's handling of misconduct reports.

Earlier...from The Los Angeles Times: Twenty former students from Miramonte Elementary School who say they were victims of sexual abuse by a teacher are contending in a lawsuit that the Los Angeles Unified School District was negligent and did not do enough to protect students. Mark Berndt, who taught at Miramonte, faces 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children, but was not named as a defendant in the suit. He has pleaded not guilty. The district fired him after the allegations against him. RELATED...from The Los Angeles Daily News: Teachers at the Los Angeles Unified District school where two teachers were arrested on child lewdness charges are demanding that they be returned to their classrooms, saying they are being unfairly punished. About 85 teachers have been warehoused at the unfinished Augustus Hawkins High School since being removed from Miramonte Elementary in February. Superintendent John Deasy temporarily replaced the entire staff after veteran teacher Mark Berndt was arrested in January. That was followed by allegations of lewd acts by a second teacher.


APRIL 2012...from The Los Angeles Times: Miramonte Elementary, the Los Angeles district school beset earlier this year by misconduct charges against two teachers, will have a new center next fall for parents to take classes and hold meetings. The $143,535 upgrade at Miramonte, which is in unincorporated Florence-Firestone, is part of a $20-million districtwide plan. Miramonte burst into the news in February with the arrest of Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct. A second teacher, Martin Springer, was later arrested on unrelated lewd conduct charges and has pleaded not guilty. Days later, Supt. John Deasy decided to replace the school's entire staff at an estimated cost of $5.7 million.


FEBRUARY 2012...from The Los Angeles Times: As the scandal over two Miramonte Elementary School teachers accused of committing lewd acts on children grows, it's becoming clear the Los Angeles Unified School District faces a heavy financial cost. Miramonte has reopened with an all-new slate of teachers and administrators as well as custodians and cafeteria workers. But the district will continue to pay the old staff even as they wait out the investigations. It remains unclear how long this arrangement will last; the investigations are expected to take months. The new hiring alone will run $5.7 million for the remainder of the school year. But those costs are likely to pale when compared with potential legal liability that could run into the millions of dollars.

UPDATE...from The Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Unified Districtis replacing the entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School in the wake of the arrests last week of two teachers on lewd conduct charges. Officials stressed that no one else on the Miramonte staff is under suspicion of wrongdoing but that the chain of events has placed a cloud over the campus that can be lifted only with a drastic response. From The Los Angeles Times: Miramonte Elementary School, the Los Angeles Unified District school where two teachers have been arrested for alleged lewd activity with students, will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday as sheriff's detectives and district officials continue an investigation into the allegations. District officials and investigators have been trying to learn what staff members might have known about the two teachers, Mark Berndt and Martin Springer, who were arrested last week. There also has been concern about the other teachers at the school, who may have been traumatized by the disturbing revelations.

From The Los Angeles Times: A South Los Angeles elementary school was reeling after authorities arrested a second teacher accused of abusing students. Martin Bernard Springer, 49, faces charges for allegedly committing lewd acts upon a child. Police say Springer fondled two girls in separate incidents over the last three years.

JANUARY 2012....from The Los Angeles Times: A man who taught for three decades at Miramonte Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified District has been charged with lewd acts on 23 children. Mark Berndt, 61, was taken into custody Monday after a nearly yearlong investigation that began when a photo processor turned over to authorities pictures of some of the alleged acts. Ten children in the photos recovered have not been identified; more than 80 children and staff have been in interviewed. The district fired Berndt in March.

MORE from The Los Angeles Times on the Miramonte investigation.

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