LAUSD relocates Miramonte Elementarys entire staff
2/7/2012, 7:50 a.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A two-day closure went into effect at Miramonte Elementary School today to enable the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace the entire staff following the arrests of two teachers on allegations of lewd acts and sexual crimes against students.
Qualified teachers on a placement or rehiring list will be brought in to Miramonte, which is located in the unincorporated Florence area, Tom Waldman, the district's director of media and communications, told City News Service. He said the displaced staff -- including administrators, teachers, secretaries and custodians -- will continue to be paid and will receive counseling.
Many or possibly all the school's teaching staff will eventually be returned to Miramonte, officials told the Los Angeles Times.
Schools Superintendent John Deasy announced the shakeup Monday night at a meeting that he and other district officials had with Miramonte parents at South Region High School #2, which is near the elementary school, to discuss the abuse attributed to 61-year-old Mark Berndt and 49-year-old Martin Springer.
Both men are in custody. Springer has not been charged but was tentatively expected to be appear in court today.
The school board expressed support for Deasy's decision, while the teachers' union expressed no objections to the staff relocation.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing district teachers, issued a statement saying it was "committed to doing everything we can to support the Miramonte community."
"We support a thorough, vigorous and fair investigation of all allegations," the statement said.
"It's everyone's responsibility to ensure that any and all allegations are thoughtfully and carefully investigated. This is an incredibly trying time for the staff, students and parents at the school. It is also a wrenching time for all educators, because we care so deeply about the students we teach."
School Board President Monica Garcia issued a statement expressing broad support for the superintendent.
"The Board is thankful, confident, and supportive of how Superintendent John Deasy is handling the situation," she 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."
Deasy, who has described the actions attributed to Berndt as "despicable," said he would ask the school board to fire Springer today, when the board is scheduled to hold a closed-session meeting beginning at 10 a.m.
"As an educator and a father, I'm appalled and sickened by the allegations against this teacher," Deasy said. "The district is working closely with the entire Miramonte community to deal with the terrible trauma that has arisen as the result of the arrest of Mark Berndt (last) week and
(Friday's) arrest of Martin Springer."
Garcia said she would "support the superintendent's recommendation" on Springer.
Berndt, a former third-grade Miramonte teacher, was arrested last Monday for allegedly taking photos of students who were blindfolded, had tape over their mouths and spoons of his semen held to their lips. He had taught at the school for 30 years.
Springer, of Alhambra, was arrested Friday on suspicion of lewd conduct -- including allegedly fondling two female students.
Berndt, who is charged with abusing 23 children between 2005 and 2011, is being held in lieu of $23 million -- $1 million per alleged victim -- and scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 21 at the Metropolitan Branch Courthouse.
Springer is being held on $2 million bail after being arrested as he emerged from a LAUSD building at 107th Street and Western Avenue. The allegations against him involve girls who were about seven years old when they were "allegedly fondled in a classroom" sometime in the past three years, according to Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.