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L.A. school board meets on Miramonte sex-abuse allegations

February 6, 2012 | 10:39 am

Mark Berndt and Martin Springer
The Los Angeles school board met behind closed doors Monday to discuss the sex-abuse allegations at Miramonte Elementary School, where two teachers were arrested last week for investigation of lewd activity with students.

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy declined to elaborate on the purpose of the meeting but other officials said the district is pursuing leads in its internal investigation and looking at ways to help the school community cope with the trauma of having two teachers arrested on such charges.

The district has canceled Tuesday and Wednesday's classes at the South L.A. campus Tuesday. Teachers and other employees, however, will be at the school those days for staff meetings.

FULL COVERAGE: Miramonte sex-abuse investigation

The school was open Monday for normal operation.

Mark Berndt, 61, faces 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly feeding his semen to blindfolded children in "tasting games." Martin Bernard Springer, 49, is suspected of fondling two children in his second-grade class in the last three years.

Berndt was removed from the school a year ago and arrested a week ago. Springer was pulled from class last Thursday and arrested the following day.

The officially stated reason for Monday's school board meeting was to meet with legal counsel and discuss a case of potential litigation. Although officials did not specifically reference Miramonte, sources have confirmed what will be discussed at the hastily called meeting.

The board also is scheduled to meet in closed session Tuesday, when it is expected to act on Deasy's request to fire Springer and a Hamilton High School teacher accused of molestation in a civil lawsuit. Berndt no longer works for L.A. Unified.

Monday's meeting began at 9:15 a.m. and was attended by school board President Monica Garcia and board members Steve Zimmer, Tamar Galatzan and Nury Martinez.

Also on hand were General Counsel Dave Holmquist, the school system’s top attorney; district counsel Gregory McNair; human resources chief Vivian Ekchian; head of school operations Earl Perkins; and George McKenna, who supervises the region in which Miramonte is located.

The school board quickly adjourned into closed session after taking of roll and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Meantime, parents gathered outside to express anger over how the district handled the case. Attorneys representing some families were scheduled to release copies of claims for damages that they intend to file against the nation’s second-largest school system.

In addition, officials have scheduled a meeting with parents for 6 p.m. Monday at Southeast Region High School #2 on S. Central Avenue.


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

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department