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L.A. schools chief backs child sex-abuse audit

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said Monday he would support a state audit of the school system’s handling of child sexual-abuse cases.

Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate) is planning to push this week for the audit.

“The district supports any audit from government agencies that seeks to strengthen laws to protect children,” said Deasy in a statement. “Parents need to know that their children are safe in school.”

The audit request is the latest fallout from the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct against students. He is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded students as part of what he allegedly described as a tasting game.

Deasy added that he’d want an inquiry to focus as well on state laws that make it more difficult to “dismiss employees proven to have engaged in sexual misconduct.” 

The superintendent also said the district is at work to revise internal rules on how to report alleged sexual misconduct to parents. At a number of campuses, parents have complained that they were left in the dark for too long about allegations or even criminal charges against teachers.

An improved process for providing information to parents will be unveiled before the March 13 Board of Education meeting.

Lara chairs the Legislature's audit committee, which is expected to meet this week to vote on his request for an inquiry. Lara said he expects the request to be approved and intends to make the audit the committee's top priority.

“We need to have an independent eye overseeing the safety of kids,” Lara said.

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-- Howard Blume

 
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