School sex-abuse scandal: Parents protest Miramonte transfers
More than 200 parents and students gathered outside Miramonte Elementary School before the start of class Thursday to protest the replacement of the entire staff after two teachers were arrested on charges of lewd conduct with pupils.
With standardized tests and parent-teacher conferences coming up, some protesters said the timing of the staff overhaul -- as well as a two-day shutdown that ended Thursday -- could not have been worse.
"What will the new teachers have to say?" asked Betty Fuentes, 18, who was at the school with her younger brother, a fifth-grader at Miramonte. The new teachers will not have much information to give to parents about their children's development, she said.
The staff's removal came after teachers Mark Berndt and Martin Bernard Springer were arrested on charges they engaged in lewd acts with students.
After Berndt's arrest, two families reported that Springer, a 49-year-old second-grade teacher, had fondled their children in separate incidents within the last three years. He was removed from his classroom Feb. 2 and arrested the next day.
One of Springer's alleged victims has since recanted her claims, a law enforcement source said.
"It's not fair for the rest of the teachers," Fuentes said. "It's not their fault. Let them at least stay and finish the rest of the year."
-- Angel Jennings at Miramonte Elementary School
Photo: Students arrive at Miramonte Elementary School on Thursday after the school was closed for two days in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times