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Parents at L.A. school keep kids home amid sex-abuse allegations

February 6, 2012 |  9:56 am

Parent protest at Miramonte
Clusters of upset parents gathered Monday at Miramonte Elementary, some clutching their children as others kept theirs home in the wake of sex-abuse allegations against two teachers at the South L.A. grade school.

A sign wrapped around the front gate of the school read, “We the parents demand our children be protected from lewd teachers at LAUSD.”

Some children carried class projects -- a model of a house, a pyramid made of popsicle sticks -- past parents and TV news cameras. 

Karina Aguillon, 21, a parent of a kindergartner, remembered having Mark Berndt -- the teacher accused of feeding his semen to students -- as her own teacher years ago.

FULL COVERAGE: Miramonte sex-abuse investigation

“I was shocked because I had that teacher. He was nice. The sexual predators are always nice to kids and students,” Aguillon said. “You don’t know who to trust anymore. You can’t even trust the teachers.”

Aguillon was taking her kindergarten daughter to class when she saw her mother, Nancy Linares, 41, leading the protest. Linares voiced her opinion that her grandchild should not attend school Monday, and the girl did not.

Linares said she when seeing her granddaughter after school last week, “Instead of asking, 'Did you learn something today?' I asked, ‘Did someone touch you?’ ”

Linares said she had to tell the girl what was appropriate touching, and what was inappropriate. She said she organized a meeting of about 20 parents Friday to discuss the scandal and made plans to hold another session.

Jasmine Ortiz, 19, who was taking her second-grade cousin to school, said she also once had Berndt as a teacher.

“Us as parents, cousins and aunties, we don’t feel comfortable anymore,” Ortiz said, adding that the girl with her would be transferring from Miramonte to another school next week. Ortiz said she had three other cousins who had already pulled out of Miramonte. 

“Education is always No. 1,” she said, repeating what a cousin's parent told her.

Non-parents also showed up at the school Monday.

Morris Griffith of Inglewood, who described himself as a community activist, used a bullhorn to proclaim: “We are not going to tolerate this. This is too serious. We want rules and regulations changed by LAUSD. We need protection.”

Griffith said he wanted cameras in every classroom.

RELATED:

Parents plan protest over sex allegations at L.A. school

Evidence was insufficient to charge teacher in '94, D.A. says

Teacher arrests show 'complete failure' at L.A. school, attorney says

-- Angel Jennings at Miramonte Elementary School

Photo: Dozens of parents demonstrate Monday outside Miramonte Elementary School. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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