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LAUSD fires two teachers accused of sex abuse

February 7, 2012 |  2:05 pm
Martin Springer

Los Angeles school officials have fired two teachers accused of sexual misconduct with students.

The action, taken Tuesday by the Board of Education, means that Miramonte Elementary teacher Martin Bernard Springer and Hamilton teacher Vance Miller will stop receiving pay. Both teachers already had been removed from the classroom.

Springer, 49, is charged with lewd acts against one of two 7-year-old girls he allegedly fondled. The allegations against him came to light after the arrest of Mark Berndt, another Miramonte teacher, who allegedly took photos of blindfolded students as he spoon-fed them his semen.

PHOTOS: Sex abuse charges spark parent uproar

The two Miramonte cases are not considered to be related.

Miller is the subject of two civil lawsuits, one of which was filed Tuesday. The suits allege that he befriended and mentored the alleged victims, developing relationships that escalated physically into sexual behavior while the students were minors at Hamilton.

Los Angeles police closed an earlier investigation into Miller that did not result in charges being filed. But reports by KPCC radio and The Times about this case have resulted in police considering new evidence and reopening the investigation. During his long tenure at Hamilton, Miller won widespread acclaim as a teacher central to the school’s arts program.

FULL COVERAGE: Miramonte sex-abuse investigation

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy reviewed Miller’s case in response to a media inquiry and decided that Miller should be fired. The district began its own probe of Miller last fall, after police closed their first investigation, officials said.

Miller was removed from Hamilton in 2010. Berndt was removed from Miramonte in January 2011 and resigned under pressure in June. Springer was ordered out of his classroom last Thursday and arrested the next day.

Fired teachers have 30 days to appeal their dismissals to an administrative panel, a process that can take months.

On Monday, Deasy announced that he was authorizing the removal of the entire Miramonte staff, to  be replaced by employees waiting for jobs to reopen after budget cuts caused thousands of layoffs. Deasy said the dramatic move was necessary to restore community trust.

The old Miramonte staff was clearing out Tuesday. They will be paid, counseled and will report to work at a site without students before they are cleared to return to work at Miramonte or elsewhere.


School sex abuse scandal: Removal of all teachers protested

'Culture of silence' probed at school rocked by abuse scandal

L.A. school to be closed for two days for sex-abuse investigation

-- Howard Blume and Richard Winton

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