For the first time since they were removed from Miramonte Elementary School, teachers described their experiences over the last three months in statements obtained by The Times.
The teachers, who are expected to take part in a rally Thursday afternoon, recounted their humiliation, anger and sadness at being transferred from the school. L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy replaced the staff at Miramonte after the arrests of two teachers on lewd conduct charges; both have pleaded not guilty.
“All of us have been publicly punished and humiliated for the alleged acts of one person,” a teacher wrote in one statement. “I no longer tell people I’m a teacher. Until very recently, I was proud to be one.”
Another wrote: “Never did I imagine leaving Miramonte this way. I was expected to pack up ten years in two days.”
And a third said: “It was surreal and I thought to myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ For six weeks we were kept in the dark, no new information or interviews from anyone.”
Deasy has said most of the teachers will return to Miramonte in the fall but that he needed to restore public confidence at the campus.
The teachers have been reporting to an unopened high school, Augustus Hawkins in South Los Angeles. They sometimes held meetings and sometimes had nothing to do, some said.
The move followed the January arrest of former teacher Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct. Deputies arrested a second teacher, Martin Springer, on unrelated lewd conduct allegations days later. He also has pleaded not guilty.
-- Howard Blume
Photo: Teacher Joyce Berwanger hugs fourth-grader Stacy Arroyo, 10, at a rally outside Augustus F. Hawkins High School. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times