Attendance is improving at Miramonte
Attendance at Miramonte Elementary is rising closer to normal levels in the wake of the arrests of two teachers and the replacement of the school’s entire staff, officials have reported.
Attendance on Monday was close to 92%, which compares with more than 95% on a typical day.
The Miramonte community was rocked by the Jan. 30 arrest of former teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded students in his classroom as part of what he allegedly called “tasting games.” Days later, second-grade teacher Martin Springer was pulled from his classroom and then arrested the next day. He is charged with fondling a former student.
Following Berndt’s arrest, attendance at the school remained strong until the following Friday when it dipped to 87%. It fell to 72% the next Monday.
Miramonte then closed for two days after L.A schools Supt. John Deasy decided to replace, on a temporary basis, the entire staff while an internal investigation continues.
Attendance bottomed out at 68% on Thursday, Feb. 9, when the school reopened, with many parents and students participating in a demonstration against the removal of the old staff. Attendance was at 87% Friday before improving further on Monday.
Through Friday, the families of 22 students had inquired about transfers from Miramonte, and 11 followed through, according to district tabulations. Six of those families said they were moving; the other five just didn’t want to remain at the campus.
The decreased attendance has cost the school thousands of dollars. One day of attendance is worth about $40 per student.
[For the Record, 9:01 a.m. Feb. 14: An earlier version of this post said attendance at Miramonte Elementary School bottomed out at 68% on Thursday, Feb. 2. The correct date for that attendance figure is Thursday, Feb. 9.]
-- Howard Blume
Photo: Delwin Venegas, 9, takes part in a protest last week at Miramonte Elementary School. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times