Student Well-Being News in Brief

L.A. Reassigns School Staff During Probe of Abuse

By Christina A. Samuels — February 21, 2012 2 min read

The entire staff of a 1,500-student Los Angeles elementary school has been reassigned while the district and police investigate allegations that two teachers there performed lewd acts on students.

John E. Deasy, the superintendent of the 664,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District, stated in a letter that prescreened staff members new to the school would teach at Miramonte Elementary School until the end of the school year.

In addition, the letter says, the district will offer counseling services to all students at the school, past and present. The district also plans to work with an independent commission, which will “review our processes and provide recommendations so that every LAUSD school can learn from this experience.”

“Some might see this as an extreme measure, but this is an extreme circumstance,” Mr. Deasy said in his letter.

Monica Carazo, a spokeswoman for the school system, told Education Week that 128 teachers and front-office staff, as well as the janitorial staff, were being relocated to a school building that is opening next year and currently has no students.

The moves at Miramonte Elementary were made after the Jan. 30 arrest of Mark Berndt, who is described as a well-liked teacher who had taught at the school for 31 years. The Los Angeles Times reported that in late 2010, a photo technician at a convenience store saw pictures of young children blindfolded and with tape over their mouths, and reported the photos to police authorities. During the investigation, police say they saw pictures of students with a blue plastic spoon with a milky white substance held near their mouths. Police found a spoon and container in his classroom that tested positive for Mr. Berndt’s semen.

Mr. Berndt, 61, was removed from the school in January 2011 after district administrators saw the pictures. As the district prepared to fire him, he retired. He was arrested last month and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts against children. He is in custody, with bail set at $23 million.

Three days after Mr. Berndt’s arrest, a second teacher at the school, Martin Springer, was arrested on charges that he fondled two 7-year-old students in the classroom, the Times reported. The teachers would sometimes take their students on joint field trips, according to the Times. Mr. Springer is being held on $2 million bail.

No statements were available from either of the accused men or their lawyers.

The allegations shocked the parents, many of whom pulled their children from the classroom. Some demanded that all the teachers at the school be investigated. Mr. Deasy’s letter pledges that “every former Miramonte student and staff member” will be interviewed.

A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as L.A. Reassigns School Staff During Probe of Abuse

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Student Well-Being Fauci's Latest on Vaccines for Young Kids: Not Likely This Year
A COVID-19 vaccine probably won’t be ready for elementary students until 2022, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, walking back prior comments.
2 min read
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden visits the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Md.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as the president visits the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 11.
Evan Vucci/AP
Student Well-Being Opinion New Research Explains Why Confessions Are Convincing
Admitting mistakes makes you come across as knowledgeable—and it’s a good way to model intellectual humility.
Sam Maglio
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Forging Student Connections & Growth Mindsets
In this Spotlight, discover ways to foster a growth mindset to re-connect and engage with students.
Student Well-Being Fauci Says Young Kids Could Start Getting Vaccinated by September
A COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 1st grade may be approved by next school year, said Fauci. But some public health experts aren't so sure.
5 min read
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Oct. 12.
Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP