Fornits

Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform => Public Sector Gulags => Topic started by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 05:44:39 PM

Title: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 05:44:39 PM
I'll be posting articles of this case in LA poverty-stricken area.  Some truly vile shit - more along the lines of Canadian Residential Schools than WWASP/Ιlan.



Mark Berndt, Miramonte Elementary School Teacher, Reportedly Took Photos of Kids Bound, Gagged, Crawling With Cockroaches in Sick 'Sex Game' (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/01/mark_berndt_photos_kids_bound_gagged_sex_game.php)

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Mark Berndt, Miramonte Elementary School Teacher, Reportedly Took Photos of Kids Bound, Gagged, Crawling With Cockroaches in Sick 'Sex Game'
By Simone Wilson Tue., Jan. 31 2012 at 7:30 AM
Categories: Sex Crimes

miramonte elementary bendt.jpg
LAUSD
The South L.A. school where Bendt taught for three decades.
?Update: "'Sex Game' Teacher Mark Berndt Went Free for Over a Year: How Did LAUSD, L.A. Sheriff Let This Happen?"

Updated at the bottom: DNA tests show that Berndt spoon-fed the students his own semen.

A longtime South L.A. elementary school teacher was fired about one year ago, in January 2011, when he was reportedly found with hundreds of photos of his third-grade students -- bound, gagged, crawling with cockroaches and sometimes fed semen, according to KNX news radio.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy tells KNX that 61-year-old Mark Henry Berndt of Miramonte Elementary was immediately fired when district officials laid eyes on the nauseating photographs.

mark bendt.jpg
LA Times
Mark Berndt was arrested yesterday after a yearlong investigation.
?Berndt allegedly told the kids that it was all just a game -- but investigators from the Special Victims Bureau of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department tell reporters at Fox11 that the strange ritual was a "sex game" intended to fulfill the perverted sexual desires of the teacher.

Reports say that Berndt snapped up to 400 pictures of at least 23 children, ages 7 to 10 -- but those are just the victims who have been identified. Investigators have spent the last year probing the extent of the damage, and fear there may be many more victims who haven't come forward.

According to Fox11, the cockroaches were lured onto the children's faces by "putting sugar in their mouths," but KNX says the sugar was actually semen.

Academically, the veteran third-grade teacher scored below-average marks in the LA Times' 2009 teacher ratings. Miramonte is located in unincorporated Los Angeles, near South L.A.:


View Larger Map

A Twitter user named Mia says she had Mr. Berndt for 2nd and 5th grades. She says he was her favorite teacher, and that the allegations come as a huge shock. "He was obsessed with the Mojave desert, and drove a baby blue vw bug, he did take boy students on trips to the desert," the woman Tweets. Also: "The only thing I ever thought was out of the ordinary was his camping trips to the desert with the boy students."

Berndt is reportedly behind bars, held under $2.3 million bail. Sheriff's officials are planning to release more information within the hour. Updates to come as they're available.

Update: Gigi Graciette at Fox11, who broke this story, says Redondo Beach police were originally notified of a suspicious roll of film that Berndt took to get developed (apparently containing the kiddie porn). They then turned over the probe to the Sheriff's Department.

A spoon with Berndt's own semen on it was reportedly found in the teacher's classroom trash can. The photos showed the kids -- mainly females -- blindfolded with with their mouths taped shut.

It's sick," says Superintendent Deasy on the morning news. "It makes you sick to your stomach." He adds that cops are still trying to determine where and when the photos were taken.

So how did something this large-scale and monstrous get past administrators? "There was no student who ever came forward," says Deasy, looking disgusted and helpless.

The full story, via the L.A. County Sheriff's Department:

    Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives arrested 61-year old Mark Berndt, a teacher with over 30 years' experience at a South Los Angeles elementary school, on child molestation charges after conducting an extensive sex crimes investigation.

    The investigation began over a year ago when over 40 photographs depicting children in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were turned in to law enforcement by a film processor. Film processors are mandated to report suspected child abuse under California law (11166 of the California State Penal Code).

    Investigators learned that some of the photos depicted Suspect Mark Berndt with his arm around the children, or with his hand over their mouths.

    In addition, the photographs depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance. There are also photos of children with large live Madagascar-type cockroaches on their faces and mouths.

    Over 80 current and former students and school employees were interviewed during the extensive investigation. 23 boys and girls between the ages of 7 - 10 years old, have been identified as victims for crimes that were committed between 2008 - 2010.

    A search warrant was served by sheriff's detectives on the suspect's home in the city of Torrance, which led to the discovery of over 100 more similar photographs depicting children. Also recovered was a DVD of film depicting adult sexual "Bondage" activity which mirrored the bondage-type photos of the children. The adults in the bondage video were not identified and the images in that video are not a crime.

    An additional 250 photographs were later recovered by Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives from the film processing establishment.

    There were over 26 children identified in the 390 total photos. Approximately 10 children have not yet been unidentified.

    Early in the investigation, Special Victims Bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect's classroom. The recovered items tested positive for semen. Through further investigation, the suspect's DNA was obtained and tested, and determined that it matched that of the DNA profile found on the spoon and container.

    For over 30 years the suspect was a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, 1400 E. 68th St., Los Angeles (unincorporated Florence/Firestone area). Shortly after the investigation began, in March 2011, the suspect was terminated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Twenty-three felony counts of Lewd Acts Upon a Child, 288(a) of the California State Penal Code, involving 23 children were filed in Norwalk Superior Court on Monday, January 30, 2012, with bail set at $2.3 million.

Update No. 2: The big question that remains this morning: Why was Berndt allowed to walk freely among us for the year that it took the Special Victims Bureau to complete its probe?

Lieutenant Carlos Marquez tells KNX that investigators were "monitoring" the ex-teacher in the months after he was fired. He argues that any immediate danger was mitigated by the school board's decision to kick Berndt off campus, and says the Sheriff's Department wanted to gather all possible evidence before making an arrest.

For instance, DNA testing on the spoon and container was only completed "a month and a half ago." But still -- why?

The department insists that the task was complicated enough to warrant the delay. Try telling that to the hundreds, even thousands, of horrified Miramonte parents whose children were exposed to Berndt in his 30-plus years at the elementary school.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 06:27:41 PM
Mark Berndt, L.A. Teacher Accused of Horrific Sex Crimes, Still Being Paid More Than $3,800 a Month -- Report (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/_mark_berndt_3800_month_retirement_pension.php)

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Mark Berndt, L.A. Teacher Accused of Horrific Sex Crimes, Still Being Paid More Than $3,800 a Month -- Report
By Dennis Romero Wed., Feb. 1 2012 at 7:08 AM
Categories: WTF

Thumbnail image for cash currency bills.JPG
?Mark Berndt, the 63-year-old former teacher accused of horrific crimes against children at a South Los Angeles elementary school, is actually enjoying a $3,800-a-month-plus pension that you couldn't take away from him even if he was put away for life.

It's true.

The revelation came last night after the California State Teachers' Retirement System issued the following statement:


    The law provides that members' earned benefits cannot be taken away due to a criminal conviction ...

In fact, Berndt has been arrested and charged with 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child involving 23 children. Even if he's convicted (he's presumed innocent until proven otherwise), his cushy teachers' union contract provides nearly $3,900 a month.

That aspect of the story was broken last night by Fox 11 News (no story or video was available on its awesome site).

It was initially reported that Berndt, who allegedly took photos of children in gross, sexualized contexts, was fired in March after Sheriff's investigators had been looking at him dating back to a year ago.

But Fox 11 News reported he "retired" last summer, perhaps in a preemptive move, as Berndt was under the watchful eye of detectives.

The teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A. was found out after a photo lab technician turned him in for allegedly trying to develop horrific pictures of some of his third-graders.

LA Weekly's Simone Wilson describes the core of the allegations against him:

    He allegedly let cockroaches crawl on their faces and spoon-fed them his own semen. Investigators say they confiscated over 400 photos of the in-class "sex game," which they believe recurred over a two-year period (from 2008 to 2010).

He was being held in lieu of $2.3 million bail.

This story of how to extract an alleged problem teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District will get people talking again about the almost-impossible-to-fire-educators rules in place for public school instructors.

Can you say "outrage"?

[Added]: Check out our story from 2010 about how "Grim Sleeper" serial murder suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr. also collected a healthy pension and had already grabbed more than $300,000 of taxpayer money via disability pension checks (he was a onetime city worker) by the time he was charged.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:22:58 PM
Alleged 'Sex Game' Teacher Mark Berndt Went Free for Over a Year: How Did LAUSD, L.A. Sheriff Let This Happen? (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/01/mark_berndt_sex_game_teacher_lausd_sheriff.php)

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Sex Crimes
Alleged 'Sex Game' Teacher Mark Berndt Went Free for Over a Year: How Did LAUSD, L.A. Sheriff Let This Happen?
By Simone Wilson Tue., Jan. 31 2012 at 5:45 PM
Categories: Really?, Sex Crimes

mark bendt sex games elementary school.jpg
L.A. County Sheriff's Department
Berndt is accused of feeding his semen to schoolchildren.
?It's hard to imagine child-molester charges more horrific than those pinned on ex-Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, 63, yesterday.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau arrested the teacher, who had been at the school for over 30 years, for binding and gagging at least 23 third-graders. He allegedly let cockroaches crawl on their faces and spoon-fed them his own semen. Investigators say they confiscated over 400 photos of the in-class "sex game," which they believe recurred over a two-year period (from 2008 to 2010).

If true, this would clearly be one of the most sickening abuses of power ever to go unchecked in an American classroom. Yet the amount of time it took to put Berndt behind bars ...

... even after officials had seen some of the photos is near incomprehensible.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told reporters this morning that Berndt was banned from campus as soon as a Redondo Beach film processor turned the photos over to local law enforcement. (And what a stroke of luck, in this digital age, that Berndt made the self-sabotaging decision to develop his kiddie porn the old-fashioned way.)

Still, Berndt wasn't officially fired until March -- likely thanks to an unbreakable United Teachers Los Angeles union contract. The same contract that allows "lemons" to keep their jobs for eternity, no matter their performance. See L.A. Weekly print story: "LAUSD's Dance of the Lemons."

According to a 2009 teacher-effectiveness rating by the L.A. Times, Berndt was seriously lagging in math, and his students scored below average in English progress, as well.

martin sandoval miramonte elementary.jpg
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
Miramonte's principal, Martin Sandoval
?Then there's the obvious fact that no one was watching him. Superintendent Deasy told the press this morning that anyone walking past Berndt's classroom would be able to see right in. And Sheriff's Lieutenant Carlos Marquez says that "During the lunch breaks or recess, he'd go out to the playground and entice [students] back to the classroom."

So where was Principal Martin Sandoval during all this? (A secretary at Miramonte tells us to "call back tomorrow morning," as Sandoval is "in a meeting right now.") Was no one talking to the kids about what they did in class all day?

The students at Miramonte Elementary have been betrayed by the district and the state. Their campus has been left behind to rot, academically: It ranks in the bottom 20 percent of California schools with similar demographics (almost entirely Latino) and in the bottom 10 percent overall.

Teachers being held accountable is a make-or-break situation for vulnerable youth.

Which brings us to Outrage No. 2:

The Sheriff's Department let Berndt roam free for over a year before he was arrested and placed under $2.3 million bail.

During this time, a longtime neighbor of Berndt's tells the Los Angeles Times that he saw the accused child molester riding his bike with a young girl in Hermosa Beach, as recently as a month ago:

    Berndt seemed unnerved when [neighbor John McManus] spotted him, the neighbor said, and later told him: "Don't tell my sister I was with this young girl."

    The neighbor said Berndt told him the girl was one of his students and that they had ridden the bicycle nearly as far as Marina del Rey and back.

    He said he frequently saw Berndt hanging out around the Redondo Beach pier, drinking beer and gawking at girls.

Lieutenant Marquez argues, today, that investigators were "monitoring" the ex-teacher in the months after he was fired, and that any immediate danger was mitigated by the school board's decision to kick Berndt off campus. He tells KNX news radio that the Sheriff's Department wanted to gather all possible evidence before making an arrest. For instance, DNA testing on the semen-covered spoon was only completed about "a month and a half ago." From the Associated Press:

    Authorities could have arrested Berndt on misdemeanor charges when the investigation began but chose to build a stronger felony case, Marquez said. He could get a life sentence if he is convicted.

    Berndt, who has no previous arrest record, was placed under surveillance and is not believed to have had contact with children during the investigation. The childless bachelor lives a few blocks from two parks and an elementary school.

Jesus Christ. Why couldn't they lock him up in the meantime, while they built the case? If the 40 initial "sex game" photos were damning enough to warrant Berndt's immediate termination, no prosecutor in his or her right mind could turn such hideous evidence away cold-turkey.

LAUSD's decision not to notify parents of the alleged monster in their midst is similarly mind-boggling. Marquez tells the AP that investigators are looking for more victims, and are advising STD testing for some of the students -- medical and emotional baggage they could have been carrying around for an entire year.

We've contacted various legal experts for some insight into how it's even possible for LAUSD and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca's department to have dropped the ball this hard.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:27:16 PM
Police Say Alleged Pervert Teacher Mark Berndt Fondled Girl 18 Years Ago, LAUSD Let Him Continue Teaching (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/sex_game_teacher_berndt_lausd.php)

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Police Say Alleged Pervert Teacher Mark Berndt Fondled Girl 18 Years Ago, LAUSD Let Him Continue Teaching
By Taylor Freitas Thu., Feb. 2 2012 at 12:21 PM
Categories: Sex Crimes

berndt.JPG
L.A. County Sheriff's Department
Berndt was accused of fondling a girl in 1994
?New information is coming out about the alleged 'sex game' teacher, and it's not looking good for LAUSD, a district that has continually failed to fire its screwed-up teachers.

Police say Mark Berndt, the former Miramonte Elementary School teacher who allegedly bound and gagged students and spoon-fed them his semen, fondled a young girl in 1994, but the District Attorney's Office never filed charges.

L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Dan Scott found the information while going through files on Wednesday evening. The Los Angeles Times reports:

    A girl, who was 10 or 11 years old at the time, said Berndt attempted to fondle her over her clothing near her genital area, Scott said. The allegation was investigated by a sheriff's detective and presented to the district attorney's office, which rejected the case, Scott said.

    The district attorney's office declined to comment, saying it was prohibited by law from discussing cases more than 60 days old in which charges were not filed.

These findings beg the mind numbingly obvious question: why the hell was this man allowed to continue teaching children at the same school for another 17 years?

Our February 2010 story "LAUSD's Dance of the Lemons" exposed how difficult it is to get a bad teacher fired in L.A. Unified.

We found that of 33,000 teachers, over a 10-year period, the district spent $3.5 million trying to fire seven of them through the appeals panel system where teachers strenuously fight back. They could fire only four -- all were just awful teachers but not accused perverts like Berndt.

Included in those millions is the cost of paying the teachers their full salary and benefits during the trial process.

One common estimate is that 1,000 really bad teachers in LAUSD -- many with severe issues -- are basically ruining the educations of thousands and thousands of kids over their years in the classroom.

These are people like Carlos Polanco, an eighth-grade history teacher at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown, who criticized a student for not successfully completing in a suicide attempt. From an L.A. Times investigation:

    The eighth-grade boy held out his wrists for teacher Carlos Polanco to see.

    He had just explained to Polanco and his history classmates at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown why he had been absent: He had been in the hospital after an attempt at suicide.

    Polanco looked at the cuts and said they "were weak," according to witness accounts in documents filed with the state. "Carve deeper next time," he was said to have told the boy.

    "Look," Polanco allegedly said, "you can't even kill yourself."

    The boy's classmates joined in, with one advising how to cut a main artery, according to the witnesses.

    "See," Polanco was quoted as saying, "even he knows how to commit suicide better than you."

The LAUSD school board voted to fire him but was overruled by a review commission, saying the teacher's statements weren't meant to be harmful. Polanco kept his job.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:34:43 PM
Martin Bernard Springer: Second Teacher at Miramonte Elementary School Arrested in Sex Crime Scandal (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_elementary_arrest_second_teacher.php)

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Martin Bernard Springer: Second Teacher at Miramonte Elementary School Arrested in Sex Crime Scandal
By Dennis Romero Fri., Feb. 3 2012 at 2:54 PM
Categories: Crime

miramonte springer @rubennews.JPG
@RubenNews
Springer's booking photo.
?Updated at the bottom with the suspect's ID, more info from the sheriff's department. First posted at 11:36 a.m.

Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A. is turning into a big shop of horrors.

Following this week's arrest of former teacher Mark Berndt, charged with committing lewd acts on 23 of his students, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is confirming that a second teacher has been arrested.

That teacher ...

... was removed from class Thursday morning and is accused of "abuse," according to the Los Angeles Times.

That suspect has yet to be ID'd, and Sheriff's officials aren't yet saying what, specifically, he or she has been arrested for. But Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Times the investigation involved sex crimes detectives.

Meanwhile a lawyer for one of the 23 students Berndt is alleged to have abused (authorities say he bound and gagged them, fed them semen, had cockroaches crawl on their faces, and took photos) accuses the school of a cover-up.

Brian Claypool told KNX 1070 Newsradio that at least one parent was discouraged from cooperating with Sheriff's detectives.

When you consider that Berndt had been accused of trying to fondle a girl 18 years ago -- and no record of the allegation appearing to exist in school files -- you have to wonder what's going at the L.A. Unified School District.

What a scandal.

[Updated at 12:46 p.m.]: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told Fox 11 News this:

    We are prepared to fire him next week and we'll do that at the next board meeting for inappropriate conduct and inappropriate touching [of] students ...

[Update at 2:54 p.m.]: Sheriff's officials this afternoon named the second suspect as 49-year-old Martin Bernard Springer, who they said had been under surveillance since yesterday.

He was arrested on suspicion of lewd acts upon a child. He was jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.

According to a Sheriff's statement, detectives interviewed Springer and others and say:

    The allegations involve two girls who were allegedly fondled in the classroom at Miramonte school by Suspect Springer. They were approximately 7-years old at the time of the incidents, which were alleged to have occurred during the past three years.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:37:46 PM
Mark Berndt Sex Abuse Case at Miramonte School: Silence by John Deasy, Plus Parent Hysteria, Can Turn This Into McMartin (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/mark_berndt_miramonte_lausd_co.php)

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Mark Berndt Sex Abuse Case at Miramonte School: Silence by John Deasy, Plus Parent Hysteria, Can Turn This Into McMartin
By Jill Stewart Fri., Feb. 3 2012 at 12:01 PM
Categories: Crime, Education

john deasy serious.jpg
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy embroiled in Miramonte: He needs to tell what Sid Thompson did.
?Parent hysteria at Miramonte School today -- parents are pulling kids out of school over alleged pervert teacher Mark Berndt and the arrest of a second teacher -- could degrade into a McMartin Preschool witch hunt or Wenatchee child sex orgies B.S. Both of those were false, created by lying children, social workers and cops who suggested answers to the children, and freaked-out parents. Together they all ruined the lives of innocent caretakers and teachers.

We're heading there if LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy doesn't clear the air. But instead he was evasive on KNX today. He should explain now why LAUSD Superintendent Sid Thompson in 1994 let Berndt teach AFTER L.A. County Sheriff's detectives urged the D.A. to prosecute Berndt for fondling. Deasy is protecting the legacy of the disastrous Sid Thompson. Instead, Deasy needs to:

bad school.jpg
?-- Call a press conference and read out loud the final paperwork created by the Sid Thompson administration in 1994 or 1995 that let Berndt remain a teacher. We know there is paperwork. Let's hear why they put him back in class. We aren't asking for secret LAPD files. We're asking LAUSD to justify what looks like a disastrous decision by the Sid Thompson administration.

-- Deasy should release far more details this week of his plan for firing sicko and incompetent teachers -- a major reform that Deasy promised to pursue but seems to have dropped the ball on.

-- Deasy should this week -- without being forced by the media -- tell the public how many LAUSD teachers are currently in the rubber room or at home, being paid full wages to stay away from children.

-- Deasy should explain why he hasn't dramatically increased his legal staff of attorneys to push out bad teachers since the 2011 departure of the respected LAUSD attorney Kathleen Collins, who called for reform.

-- Deasy should justify to the parents in Los Angeles why the Dance of the Lemons is still going strong after numerous media reports by L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:40:17 PM
Miramonte Parents to Protest Outside Scandal-Plagued School This Morning (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_parents_protest_monday_sex_scandal.php)

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Miramonte Parents to Protest Outside Scandal-Plagued School This Morning
By Dennis Romero Mon., Feb. 6 2012 at 6:01 AM
Categories: Miramonte

miramonte front lausd.JPG
LAUSD
?Parents of kids at Miramonte Elementary School in Florence-Firestone have had enough.

After last week's revelations that not one but two teachers are alleged to have molested students in class, and after one report that a girl might have been assaulted by both suspects, there's action afoot.

As the school district is saying that Tuesday and Wednesday will be off days as a result of the scandal, some parents are pulling their students out a day early and ...

... marching in front of the school in unincorporated South L.A. this morning, according to reports.

Parents will be out in force at 7 a.m.


View Larger Map

And who could blame them?

Even after a student alleged that Mark Berndt tried to touch her improperly 18 years ago the district allowed him to continue teaching, apparently without the kind of extra supervision that might have prevented last week's scandal:

Berndt was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on a child.

After his arrest, authorities went after fellow Miramonte teacher Martin Bernard Springer, who was accused of having fondled two girls in his classroom.

Over the weekend the Times reported that the two educators ...

    ... knew each other. School newsletters show that they took their classes on field trips together over the last decade: one to Malibu, for example, and another to Griffith Park.

A community meeting about the scandal was scheduled for later in the week at a local high school.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:44:08 PM
Curious to note the bias presented in this article.

Kennedy High Students Rally Against Suspension of Star Baseball Coach Manny Alvarado for 'Hazing Incidents' (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/kennedy_high_suspension_baseball_coach_alvarado_hazing.php)

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Kennedy High Students Rally Against Suspension of Star Baseball Coach Manny Alvarado for 'Hazing Incidents'
By Simone Wilson Mon., Feb. 6 2012 at 1:15 PM
Categories: Sports

save coach alvarado.jpg
LA Times
Team Alvarado fights back.
?Parents, students and star alumni gathered in front of Granada Hills Kennedy High this morning to protest the pending suspension of Manny Alvarado, the school's beloved (and wildly successful) baseball coach of almost a quarter-century. Alvarado "was informed last week he will be suspended for three weeks without pay for his role in an alleged hazing incident," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cindy Kuykendall, a team mom, tells the Weekly that about 200 people staged a "positive, peaceful protest" to decry the suspension -- one that could affect not only Alvarado but "our children's future."

The high-school baseball players "need to be seen this year in order to get picked up for college," she says.

Coach Alvarado was placed on one week of administrative leave in November when two students were caught fighting outside the weight room during zero period.

The school's decorated baseball team lost two tournaments as a result, says Kuykendall. She and other parents were furious with newbie Principal Suzanne Blake -- but backed down when she said Kennedy High would put the scuffle in the past and move on.

However, Blake later found alleged evidence of "prior hazing incidents" under Alvarado's watch, the Times reports.

The coach and his supporters have challenged the "hazing" characterization, and maintain that Alvarado was unaware of the misbehavior. (Which could perhaps be considered negligence in itself, but Coach's devoted fan club doesn't see it that way.) From a report on the original incident, via the L.A. Daily News' high-school sports blog:

    "I'm not exactly sure what I'm being of accused of yet," Alvarado said. "No one has said anything to me. I don't know. ... Some kids were messing around. They were hiding it from me because they thought that was being a good teammate. But I don't know if that's even a part of it."

    Alvarado did not describe the incident as hazing.

    "I certainly hope not," he said.

His latest notice of suspension is even more mysterious. Though parents are lashing out at Principal Blake and her administration, Kennedy High Athletic Director Kevin Kanemura tells us the follow-up punishment "was a district decision."

Is it mere coincidence that the Los Angeles Unified School District is currently handling one of the biggest PR disasters in its existence, down at Miramonte Elementary South L.A.? At that beleaguered campus, the public was only informed last week that longtime teacher Mark Berndt had (allegedly) been feeding his own semen to third-graders in a sick "sex game" for years. Could this out-of-nowhere crackdown on Coach Alvarado be collateral of the bad-teacher witch hunt raging on the other end of the district?

Locker-room hazing is a serious issue. But Team Alvarado feels the Kennedy High baseball coach was unfairly targeted -- and that the district's seemingly overcautious/PC "lesson" isn't worth hurting the young players.

If Alvarado's suspension falls during the remaining season, the kids might miss more crucial games, Kuykendall writes in an email:

    "This has a direct impact on the Seniors college future. These are the ONLY times these players have a chance to be seen by College/Pro baseball scouts. With out these games our Seniors have NO hope in getting on a College team or a chance for any college scholarship money."

Looks like LAUSD might be removing one of the most positive influences at Kennedy (if Alvarado's hundreds of glowing reviews are true) in a sloppy effort to improve its abysmal record of faculty oversight.

We've contacted the district for the rationale behind the decision. Here's a video of the early-morning walkout -- attended by the likes of pro graduates John Garlan and Garrett Anderson -- from the Times. "We <3 Alvarado," indeed.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:46:40 PM
Miramonte Staff Replaced Amid Sex Abuse Scandal, but They'll Be Back (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_staff_replaced_sex_abuse_scandal.php)

Quote
Miramonte Staff Replaced Amid Sex Abuse Scandal, but They'll Be Back
By Dennis Romero Mon., Feb. 6 2012 at 8:08 PM
Categories: Miramonte

Thumbnail image for miramonte front lausd.JPG
LAUSD
?L.A. Unified School District chief John Deasy told parents tonight that the entire staff of the school would be replaced as authorities investigate the atrocious alleged sex crimes that took place at the Florence-Firestone campus.

However, many staff members would be allowed to eventually return, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It appeared to be a move to appease angry parents, who pulled one out of every four students from school today:

The 1,500-student campus in the country's second-largest district is closing tomorrow and Wednesday as the investigation continues.

Last week Mark Berndt was charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct after he allegedly bound and gagged students and took photos of them in disgusting acts.

Then a second teacher, Martin Bernard Springer, was arrested on suspicion of lewd acts with two students.

Parents organized a protest outside the school today.

In a dick move, Deasy tried to ban members of the media from attending his meeting with parents at a nearby high school tonight. (Way to [a] discriminate based on profession and, blame the media for your district's disarray. We're sure you'll make plenty of friends among us, John. Good going.)

At least one reporter, KNX 1070's Claudia Peschiutta, got inside. She tweeted:

    #LAUSD supt. says there will be new staff when #Miramonte reopens Thursday. There will also be a psychiatric social worker in every classrm.

She told KCAL News tonight that parents inside the high school auditorium chanted to let the press in, but cops kept reporters out. The legality of such a move has to be in question: Was it a public meeting on public property or not?

The Times notes that the relocation is temporary and says that Deasy even brought up the idea that some of the staffers were also traumatized by the situation.

Let's just make a wild guess here and say Deasy's not going to outlast this mess. While it's hard to blame him -- he's relatively new -- his response has been downright stupid.

Let's blame the media, play a shell game where there's no real reform, and try to sell the plan to parents thinking they won't know better.

How about getting to the root of this thing, finding out why it was covered up or at least ignored, and start the heads rolling, John?

Maybe it's because the first one will be his.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:47:54 PM
Ricardo Guevara: Meet Miramonte's Original Molester (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/ricardo_guevara_miramonte_sex_scandal.php)

Quote
Ricardo Guevara: Meet Miramonte's Original Molester
By Dennis Romero Tue., Feb. 7 2012 at 1:05 PM
Categories: Miramonte

miramonte wall.JPG
LAUSD
Miramonte.
?You can add a third man to the string of accused sex criminals at embattled Miramonte Elementary School in Florence-Firestone.

Actually, he's not accused. He's convicted.

The story of Ricardo Guevara is getting renewed attention this week after the Los Angeles Times and Univision 34 broke his story last Thursday.

According to the Times:


    Ricardo Guevara, a teacher's aide, was convicted in 2005 of lewd acts with a child, but only after two earlier reports, including one at another site, were discounted.

Univision 34 says that Guevara was accused of abusing children at L.A. Unified School District campuses three times -- dating back to 1995. The accusations prompted the district to pay $1.6 million to the families of three female victims.

Guevara was moved to Miramonte following the first accusation in 1995, which did not result in charges. According to Univision (translated):

    Guevara was hired years later at Miramonte Elementary School. Although LAUSD officials were aware of the charges against Guevara, 1995, not reported to school administrators, according to official statements of an assistant director in 2008.

Then he was accused again, in 2002: A 6-year-old said the aide touched her crotch. But prosecutors deemed there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges. Guevara was transferred to an office job, according to Univision. He soon returned to Miramonte.

Then:

    His career as an assistant professor ended Nov. 6, 2003, when a parent at Miramonte Elementary said he saw Guevara put his hand into the pants of a girl in the courtyard of the campus. Then two other girls made similar accusations.

    In 2005, a jury convicted Guevara of multiple counts of sexual abuse against minors.

He's serving a 15-year sentence.

But the pattern of accusations, paired with the history of teacher Mark Berndt, who set off the Miramonte scandal when he was arrested and charged with 23 counts of atrocious sex crimes against students last year, makes you wonder about oversight at the school.

Berndt had been accused of inappropriately touching a girl 18 years ago, but charges were not filed.

Following Berndt's arrest last week another Miramonte teacher, Martin Bernard Springer, was arrested on suspicion of committing lewd acts on two of his students.

Anyone see a pattern here? The stellar district, part of a longstanding reform-and-takeover effort on the part of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, sure didn't.

The Band-Aid for now is to replace the entire Miramonte staff. But Superintendent John Deasy said that was as much for the staff's well-being as that of the students.

Good looking out.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt Case - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 08:50:27 PM
Sex Abuse Scandal at Miramonte, Hamilton High Claims Jobs of Two Accused Teachers: Martin Springer and Vance Miller (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_teachers_fired.php)

Quote
Sex Abuse Scandal at Miramonte, Hamilton High Claims Jobs of Two Accused Teachers: Martin Springer and Vance Miller
By Dennis Romero Tue., Feb. 7 2012 at 3:18 PM
Categories: Miramonte

miramonte springer @rubennews.JPG
Springer.
?In the midst of a historic scandal, the L.A. school district board today fired two teachers accused of molesting students.

A firestorm was sparked when ex-Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was charged last week with 23 counts of unspeakable acts against children under his care: But he wasn't fired because he's retired. And, FYI, he's taking home more than $3,800 a month on pension pay.

Anyway, the lucky winners of today's unemployment are ...

... Miramonte's 49-year-old Martin Springer, arrested Friday after being suspected of molesting two girls. He was charged with three counts of committing lewd acts on a child.

And Hamilton High School music teacher Vance Miller, recently accused by two former students of having sex with them while they attended the South Robertson campus.

Interesting move, that last one:

Berndt had been accused of trying to touch a girl 18 years ago but, essentially, nothing came of it and, clearly, the district didn't appear to pay any special attention to him.

Likewise for Ricardo Guevara, a teacher's aide who was accused not once but twice of touching girls on campus until he was arrested and convicted after a third allegation. He worked at Miramonte but, as you can see, the district really did a great job of cleaning up the campus.

Berndt's and Guevara's first accusations came in the mid-1990s.

On top of all that, an L.A. Unified School District janitor, Paul Adame, was arrested for lewd acts with a child, the LAPD announced this week. He works at Germain Elementary School in Chatsworth.

The two fired teachers will have 30 days to appeal their dismissals.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:06:30 PM
Miramonte Lawsuit Claims a Victim Was Transferred From Class of One Alleged Molester to That of Another After Dad Complained (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_lawsuit_berndt_springer.php)

Quote
Miramonte Lawsuit Claims a Victim Was Transferred From Class of One Alleged Molester to That of Another After Dad Complained
By Dennis Romero Wed., Feb. 8 2012 at 7:09 AM
Categories: Miramonte

Thumbnail image for berndt.JPG
Berndt.
?One of two lawsuits filed in the wake of the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse scandal alleges one girl was victimized by suspect Mark Berndt and then transferred to the classroom of Martin Springer, who then touched her inappropriately.

In fact, according to the suit, the school's resolution following her father's complaints about inappropriate photos allegedly taken by Berndt was to move his daughter to the care of Springer, who was charged with this week with three counts of lewd acts on a child.

Berndt, as you know ...

... is the ex-Miramonte teacher whose case set off the scandal at the Florence-Firestone school. He has been charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children.

Springer was arrested last week on suspicion of lewd acts on two children, but the District Attorney's filing this week only mentions one victim and three counts:

Fox 11 News last night stated that one of the children in the case either changed her story or gave an account that did not add up.

It's not clear if the civil suit refers to that student or the victim in Springer's criminal case.

According to City News Service's account of the suit:

    In 2008, the father of a female student complained to Sandoval about inappropriate photos Berndt took of her and other students, the suit states, but Sandoval said the pictures ``might be part of a class project'' and dismissed the father's concerns.

    The girl was transferred to Springer's class, where she was subsequently "inappropriately touched'' by him on the leg and thigh, the suit states.

It was one of two suits filed against the L.A. Unified School District, Berndt, Springer and Miramonte principal Martin Sandoval on behalf of three female students for alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, sexual battery and assault.

The complaints were both filed by attorney Gregory Owen.

One of the suits' allegations is that Berndt made a CD for one of his victims.

The claims also allege that the district knew two students had complained in the 1990s that Berndt had been seen masturbating behind his desk but reacted by telling the kids not to make up stories.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:12:06 PM
Areceli Luisjuan, Former Miramonte Aide: Did She Write 'Love Letters' to 11-Year-Old, or Has Media Witch Hunt Gone Too Far? (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/areceli_luisjuan_former_miramo.php)

Quote
Areceli Luisjuan, Former Miramonte Aide: Did She Write 'Love Letters' to 11-Year-Old, or Has Media Witch Hunt Gone Too Far?
By Simone Wilson Wed., Feb. 8 2012 at 12:30 PM
Categories: Media, Miramonte

mrs luisjan.jpg
A photo of "Mrs. Luisjuan" on what appears to be her MySpace profile.
?Every L.A. media outlet from KNX news radio to HuffPost has picked up the Los Angeles Times' latest Miramonte Elementary reveal this morning, in which one mother claims that a former teacher's aide at the beleaguered campus wrote numerous "love letters" to her 11-year-old son.

There are certainly some creepy bits:

The aide, identified in the story as Areceli Luisjuan, reportedly told the kid that she liked "when you put your arm around my shoulder" and "when you get close to me." She said that this gave her "the chills."

Her behavior was inarguably on the strange side. More excerpts from the three alleged letters, from the Times:

    At the bottom, the writer penned the student's name four times, signed it "Sad Girl" and then added: "Read the letter and throw it away. I don't want your mom or brother to find it." ... The first item [the mother] found, in 2009, was a drawing of a crying woman that also was labeled "sad girl."

    She noticed the drawing when it happened to tumble from its perch in her son's room. The fall also dislodged a cellphone number from a corner of the frame.

Inappropriate. But is this worth the amount of breath we're giving it?

Luisjuan, whose apparent MySpace profile shows that she's a married, middle-aged mom who recently moved from Los Angeles to the Moreno Valley, reportedly told the boy's mother that her love was "that of a grandmother for a grandson."

Whether or not that's BS, her behavior may be receiving an unfair portion of rage as an effect of much more egregious crimes.

The sick "sex game" that ex-Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt allegedly played with his students -- including blindfolds and semen-laced baked goods -- has turned into one of the most horrifying scandals in LAUSD history.

School administrators' lack of oversight, and a hush-hush culture among Berndt's fellow teachers, allowed warning signs to go unaddressed for years.

From the LA Weekly's own archives:

"Alleged 'Sex Game' Teacher Mark Berndt Went Free for Over a Year: How Did LAUSD, L.A. Sheriff Let This Happen?"
"Ricardo Guevara: Meet Miramonte's Original Molester"
"Sex Abuse Scandal at Miramonte, Hamilton High Claims Jobs of Two Accused Teachers: Martin Springer and Vance Miller"
"Miramonte Lawsuit Claims a Victim Was Transferred From Class of One Alleged Molester to That of Another After Dad Complained"

In response to the hysteria, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy made the unprecedented decision, this week, to temporarily replace the entire teaching staff at Miramonte while they're interrogated about the sex abuse.

But that decision upset the tear-stained kids at Miramonte almost as much as the news about Berndt, once a widely beloved fixture at the school.

Meanwhile, loads of new allegations have been pounced upon by L.A. outlets -- not just about the staff at Miramonte, but the district's Germain Elementary and Hamilton High as well.

KPCC radio explored one such accusation in "What is the media's role in the Miramonte investigation?" today:

    Last night, KTLA evening news had an exclusive report into the alleged lewd conduct crimes against children at Miramonte Elementary School. The headline interview was with a 10-year old girl, filmed in shadow and unnamed. She is one of the students who says she was subject to lewd acts by teacher Mark Berndt - who faces 23 charges. The news last night was that the little girl said a third teacher would send the girl to Berndt's classroom to "get cookies during class."

    KTLA characterized it as accusation against a third teacher for helping Berndt. Attorney Brian Claypool was also interviewed for the story, during which he sobbed, "When I heard it today, it confirmed my worst suspicions. That teacher should be protecting [my client] from Mr. Berndt, and she helped him do it." It was a breathless report into a scandal that has rocked this school's community.

Why is all this coming out now? Is wildfire journalism fanning more fear and rumor than is necessary/healthy? Do we have another McMartin Preschool witch hunt on our hands? Or has the L.A. school district's egregious lack of accountability in Berndt's case just allowed a long, scary history of similar crimes against LAUSD children to come to light?
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:14:13 PM
Miramonte Staff Will Never Return to Scandal-Plagued Campus, Teachers' Union Says (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_teachers_removed_utla_union.php)

Quote
Miramonte Staff Will Never Return to Scandal-Plagued Campus, Teachers' Union Says
By Dennis Romero Thu., Feb. 9 2012 at 12:37 PM
Categories: Miramonte

Thumbnail image for miramonte front lausd.JPG
LAUSD
?As was sure to happen, the sex-abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary is turning into a battle between the powerful teacher's union and the bureaucratically stifling L.A. Unified School District.

Who's right and who's wrong shouldn't even matter at this point. Sheriff's investigators believe there might be as many as 25 additional victims of suspect and ex-Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt.

But the union, silent on the matter until Monday, is whining:

United Teachers Los Angeles is angry that Miramonte's entire staff has been removed in reaction to the scandal in which Berndt was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children and instructor Martin Springer was charged with three such counts.

Superintendent John Deasy had said that staffers would be allowed to return, essentially, when the dust clears.

But the UTLA today called that and other statements by Deasy "broken promises."

According to a union statement:

    Superintendent John Deasy--without the input of parents--took the unprecedented move this week to remove the entire school's staff. District officials initially indicated that the staff could return, once the investigation was completed. Now LAUSD says that Miramonte staff will NOT be allowed to return, no matter the outcome of the investigation.

UTLA contends that Miramonte's teachers "will never be allowed back." Union president Warren Fletcher:

    It's clear that LAUSD does not have a plan. They are making it up as they go along, and the kids are paying the price. LAUSD is making a tragic situation even worse and traumatizing the entire school unnecessarily. Parents and students want their teachers back.

But the district says that the plan all along was to keep the Miramonte staff off campus through the end of the current school year, replacing it with teachers on placement and rehiring lists.

LAUSD spokesman Tom Waldman told the Weekly:

    The plan is that through the school year '11-'12 we will have the current arrangement in place and we'll see after that. UTLA says the replacement is permanent. The district has never said that.

Some parents were angered over the arrangement, bummed that teachers who had worked with their children for years vanished as the campus reopened today after two-day closure in response to the scandal.

We think removing the staff was the least the LAUSD could do: We want to know how supervisors and fellow teachers didn't know any of this was allegedly going on under their noses.

While there are surely innocents among the Miramonte staff, there's more guilt to go around: It takes a village to support the kind allegations being made at the Florence-Firestone school.

So far, it's been all talk, no real action, on both sides of this. We're not distracted by the debate, however. We have our eyes on the prize. Heads need to roll.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:17:20 PM
Testing to see if this post brings us to the next page.  The next article coming up is going to provide why I think this article is especially noteworthy for this forum and website and to possibly allow us to explore how such a lack of protection exists for children.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:18:09 PM
Another test.  Got to wait a few minutes between posts.  Reasonable.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:20:55 PM
All right, the big Kahuna.  Or the raison d'etre of this whole thread.  I invite you to read the first page to know what the details are before you head deep into the necessary meta-analysis of the situation.

Miramonte Parents Scared L.A. Sheriff Will Deport Them -- Turning Sex-Scandal Probe Into Immigration Debate (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_parents_scared_la_sheriff_will_deport_them.php)

Quote
Miramonte Parents Scared L.A. Sheriff Will Deport Them -- Turning Sex-Scandal Probe Into Immigration Debate
By Simone Wilson Thu., Feb. 9 2012 at 5:45 PM
Categories: Immigration, Miramonte

ice secure comm.jpeg
As if they don't have enough to worry about.
?No matter the hot L.A. news item, it always seems to turn into an immigration debate.

And that should come as no surprise: Rough estimates have placed close to 1 million illegal immigrants in Los Angeles County. And whenever law enforcement or press come sniffing, the paperless are at risk of being outed.

This fear has reportedly played a large factor in the sheriff's probe of Miramonte Elementary in unincorporated South L.A.:

Sheriff's investigators have found around 600 photos, so far, of ex-teacher Mark Berndt allegedly feeding his bound-and-gagged students spoonfuls of his own semen -- part of a sick "sex game" that went on for years.

Dozens of ex-teacher Mark Berndt's potential victims could still be out there, as well as victims of two other pervy teachers at Miramonte. (Yes, it's as messed up as it sounds.)

But some parents tell the Associated Press that "they aren't talking to authorities because they are afraid that the Sheriff's Department, which is in charge of the investigation, will refer them to immigration through the Secure Communities program."

berdnt mickey mouse kpcc.JPG
KPCC
If anything's worth getting deported over, it's this.
?Right on cue, immigrants-rights groups and state politicians are taking the opportunity to decry Secure Communities -- the federal program that allows local cops to call up ICE if they suspect they've got an illegal alien on their hands -- anew.

All the way from NorCal, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is pitching his in-limbo AB 1081 as a "bright line between police and Immigration" that "would address [the] fear of Miramonte parents."

The bill, nicknamed the Trust Act, would allow local governments to opt out of Secure Communities.

Of course, eliminating this one program won't magically fix America's broken immigration system. But it would be a start.

L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca, in particular, has remained a staunch supporter of Secure Communities in the face of heaps of evidence proving it doesn't serve its intended purpose, and generally does more harm than good. (Thus earning him the "next Sheriff Joe" badge, in our book.)

He's being battled in court by rights groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of Los Angeles, who want Baca to release stats on undocumented Angelenos who've been deported through the program.

Until he does, it's hard to say how much harm it's really done. But awful anecdotes suggest that Miramonte parents are right to be worried.

According to CHIRLA, attorneys for the Miramonte parents suing the district over Berdnt's abuse have demanded "written assurances by Sheriff Baca that undocumented victims will not be deported through Secure Communities program."

He knows full well not to enter another PR disaster with the department in such an embattled state, and has promised not to deport any parents demanding justice for their molested kids. Obviously.

But it sure makes a good angle for the immigrants-rights folks. See also: The Compton parents blasted with (empty) threats of deportation after demanding a better education for their kids.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:22:44 PM
Miramonte's Berndt Got $40,000 From L.A. School Board to Quietly Walk Away Despite Alleged Sex-Abuse Atrocities (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/miramonte_berndt_settlement_back_pay_legal_fees.php)

Quote
Miramonte's Berndt Got $40,000 From L.A. School Board to Quietly Walk Away Despite Alleged Sex-Abuse Atrocities
By Dennis Romero Thu., Feb. 9 2012 at 5:57 PM
Categories: Miramonte

berdnt mickey mouse kpcc.JPG
KPCC
A photo of Berndt released by attorneys suing the district.
?Corrected after the jump; headline has been changed.

If it weren't for his eventual arrest, we might have never found out about the atrocities alleged to have happened in Mark Berndt's Miramonte Elementary School class.

That's because the L.A. Unified School District's elected board quietly paid Berndt to go away, according to an astonishing report by KPCC's (89.3 FM) Tami Abdollah today.

Taxpayer money was given to Berndt:


He was paid a $40,000 settlement, given months of back pay worth $24,000, was allowed to retire instead of being fired, and even had his legal fees, in the sum of $16,000, covered.

Can you say outrage?

l.a. school board.JPG
Winning: Your L.A. school board.
?

This even though the district alleged back in January of 2011 that Berndt, according to KPCC's echoing of documents it received ...

    ... caused students to be blindfolded, allowed himself to be blindfolded; caused students to have tape placed over their mouths, allowed himself to have tape placed over his mouth; caused several students to be fed with a spoon containing an "unknown cloudy-colored liquid substance"; caused several students to eat cookies with that same substance on them; touched several students by placing arm around them.

Berndt hired an attorney and fought the charges after his dismissal in January, leading to a June 7 closed-door decision by the board to let him walk away quietly with more than $3,800 a month in pension pay -- which cannot be taken away from him even if he's convicted -- and the other cash listed above, according to KPCC.

Berndt is charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on a child, acts that allegedly included spoon-feeding semen to his students.

When he was arrested last week, the world finally found out about Miramonte.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 09:24:19 PM
Another teacher, another school, same school district.

Paul Chapel, Ex-Teacher at Telfair Elementary, Is Latest Alleged Molester That LAUSD Kept Under Wraps (http://http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/02/paul_chapel_telfair_elementary_molester_lausd.php)

Quote
Paul Chapel, Ex-Teacher at Telfair Elementary, Is Latest Alleged Molester That LAUSD Kept Under Wraps
By Simone Wilson Fri., Feb. 10 2012 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Miramonte, Sex Crimes

MiramonteSchoolProtest20120207.jpg
Getty Images
The Miramonte effect: molester-phobia is spreading across L.A.
?Seriously, what is with all these old men (allegedly) touching kids at L.A.'s low-income schools?

The October 8 arrest of a former third-grade teacher at Telfair Elementary -- Paul William Chapel, 50 -- is the latest big reveal in the media hunt for more LAUSD child molesters, after Miramonte Elementary was found to be a cesspool for pervy adults.

The LA Daily News reports that Chapel...

... was charged with 16 counts of "continuous sexual abuse against three girls and one boy, all under age 14, between Sept. 13, 2010, and April 15, 2011." Those include "nine counts of committing a lewd act upon a child" and three counts of "committing a forcible lewd act" -- in which police say Chapel used "force, violence, duress, menace and threat of great bodily harm."

Telfair Elementary is located at the edge of the Valley, in minority-heavy Paicoma.


View Larger Map

Unlike with Miramonte's infamous Mark Berndt, the dirty details of Chapel's alleged sex abuse haven't been revealed. But with charges this serious, and a bail set at $2.2 million, it sounds like he may turn out to have been a serial sex monster.

Yet in the four-and-a-haf months since Chapel was fired and jailed, Los Angeles Unified School District officials never once notified parents that their children may have been exposed to a pedophile.

They express their shock to the Daily News:

    Outside of Telfair, parents expressed frustration that they hadn't been told that a teacher had been arrested on sex-abuse charges. Their comments echoed those of parents at Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A., where authorities kept their investigation of a teacher secret for more than a year.

    "We were never informed of this. It's a big shock," said Sylvia Hernandez, who has children in third grade and preschool. "We would like to be informed. We'd like to know what's going on with our children in school. That's the least we can expect. We send them to school and you expect for them to be taken care of here."

As far as we know, LAUSD isn't required by state law to notify parents when something like this happens on campus -- and teachers unions are known to discourage any official accusations against teachers until the verdict is in. (In an investigation by the Dallas Morning News of similar policy in Texas, a union rep said, "It's hard to know how to come down on it. You have to find that line to protect kids and not get into a witch hunt mode against teachers.")

But in Berndt's case, for example, additional victims who may have been fed semen by their teacher didn't know to get an STD test. During the year-long investigation after Berndt was fired, these kids were under the impression that they had participated in a harmless "tasting game."

When the media breaks a story like Chapel's -- instead of LAUSD or the LAPD -- it gives residents the impression that these creeps are everywhere.

Superintendent John Deasy chose to relocate Miramonte's entire teaching staff yesterday, to give the impression of a full-house cleaning. But what's different now than a year ago, when district heads first laid eyes on Berndt's horrid photographs? And if Miramonte teachers are all given this "contaminated" label, how will they be received at other schools? Are those schools so clean themselves? We could have a hundred Miramontes in this district, for all we know.

To dispel the fear, parents must be notified immediately when a teacher is arrested for child abuse. We thought the media was behind this witch hunt -- but it's really LAUSD, with all its union-catering secrecy. For more, see: "Miramonte's Berndt Got $80,000 From L.A. School Board to Quietly Walk Away Despite Alleged Sex-Abuse Atrocities."

Update: Deasy tells CBS LA that there is something "fundamentally wrong" with the California laws that make it near impossible for the district to fire teachers. He also says LAUSD is considering a psychiatric evaluation during the hiring process.
Title: Re: Mark Brendt
Post by: Ursus on February 12, 2012, 10:18:24 PM
What an incredibly SICK human being this Mark Brendt is.

That he managed to get away with it for soooo long... makes ya wonder...
Title: Re: Mark Brendt
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 10:49:09 PM
Quote from: "Ursus"
What an incredibly SICK human being this Mark Brendt is.

That he managed to get away with it for soooo long... makes ya wonder...

You don't have to wonder, it's pretty much given.  Unless you are thinking of something else.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 10:57:12 PM
Now for the articles from the LA Times.

Commit a crime, collect a pension (http://http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-pensions-20120213,0,2131610.column?page=2&track=rss)

Quote
Commit a crime, collect a pension
Public employees — including teachers — receive retirement benefits even if they are felons.

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By George Skelton Capitol Journal

February 13, 2012

From Sacramento

Here's another outrage about the child abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School: If the teacher accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded students is convicted and sent to prison, he'll still receive a public pension.

Mark Berndt, charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against children, is due nearly $4,000 a month. No matter the jury verdict. It's the law.

    George Skelton
    George Skelton
    Bio | E-mail | Recent columns

Same deal for a fellow Miramonte teacher, Martin Springer, who was charged last week with three counts of lewd conduct alleging that he fondled a girl in his class.

In fact, any state or local government employee in California who commits a felony — theft, embezzlement, extortion, bribery — in the course of performing a public duty is still entitled to a pension.

"Even if he's in prison," says Brad Pacheco, spokesman for the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

"Teachers retain their pension benefits regardless of the reason for their separation from employment," says Krista Noonan, communications director for the California State Teachers' Retirement System. "It's like a property right. It cannot be taken away or reduced."

There are a couple of relatively minor exceptions.

If some government mucky-muck is found to have illegally padded his pay and piled up an improper pension, it can be reduced.

For example, CalPERS slashed the pension of former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo to $50,000. He had expected to haul in $650,000 a year from CalPERS. Rizzo is accused of looting Bell by, among other ways, drawing a huge salary never approved by the City Council.

Rizzo, his assistant and six council members face trial on various charges of corruption.

If convicted, Rizzo shouldn't even be paid $50,000, in my view. But that gets into a big legal argument about constitutional protections.

Another minor exception to the taxpayers' commit-a-crime, draw-a-pension generosity is for elected officials. If they're caught at corruption, they can lose pension rights. But it's a weak law. The local governing body — a board of supervisors, for example — can reinstate the convicted politician's benefits.

Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to change all this.

Paying pensions to criminals "brings into disrespect and disrepute the whole civil service system," the governor told me.

The Bell scandal got him riled up, aides say.

One piece of Brown's proposed 12-point pension reform would strip retirement benefits from any public employee who committed a felony in the course of public duty.

The employee wouldn't be denied all pension pay — just the amount "earned" after he began the criminal activity. He would still be entitled to what he was previously vested in while clean.

It's unclear whether Brown's proposal would affect the alleged Miramonte molesters or pertain only to future crimes. Probably the latter. Maybe it also would affect just future employees. The governor's advisors expect that these questions would be settled in a court fight.

State and local government employees enjoy special protections under the "contracts clause" of the U.S. Constitution. But what about the contract signed by a teacher with a school district? Doesn't it forbid moral turpitude? If not, it should. And contract violations involving felonious moral turpitude should void pensions.

If nothing else, it should be on the table during collective bargaining. I can't believe teachers' unions would want to protect child molesters.

Brown's goal is to deny as much pension pay as possible to lawbreakers.

    George Skelton
    George Skelton
    Bio | E-mail | Recent columns

A Republican assemblyman, Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita, would go one step further. He'd amend a pension forfeiture into the state Constitution. Then only the electorate at the ballot box could change the law.

Brown's proposal would merely be a statute, which could be altered by the Legislature on a majority vote.

"I want to make sure there's teeth in this," Smyth says. "I've been in the Legislature only five years, but that's long enough to have seen deals made in one year be undone in a future year.

"This is an era of term limits when legislators are not here for long and they don't have institutional memories. It's easy to forget the importance of some bills."

The importance of this legislation: "Teachers who are predators and basically use their positions to commit heinous acts on kids shouldn't be rewarded with pensions. In fact, taxpayers are hit twice — for the pensions and the cost of incarceration."

Smyth quickly adds: "In no way is this an anti-teacher proposal. My parents were teachers. My wife is a teacher. Her sister is a teacher. I want to protect our kids and the taxpayers."

Most probably, Smyth will get to vote only for Brown's proposal. His own will never reach the Assembly floor because it's a Republican measure in a Democratic-controlled Legislature. Moreover, his constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds legislative vote to advance to the ballot. That's very unlikely.

Brown's proposal should be a no-brainer for the Legislature. But there are rumblings of concern about the poor innocent spouse who might be relying on a full pension.

The public servant, however, should have thought about that before going bad. The spouse is his responsibility, not the taxpayers'. Anyway, there's SSI/SSP, the tattered federal-state safety net. Join the ranks of the unlucky.

"It's unfortunate," says Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "Innocent people get hurt. On the other hand, this falls into the category of excess."

Steinberg says of Brown's anti-felon proposal: "I have no problem with it."

Good. Get it passed. Sooner the better — before many more crimes are committed on the public dime by creeps as they fatten their pensions.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 11:01:16 PM
L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal (http://http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teacher-20120209,0,3760652.story?page=2&track=ud)

Quote
L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal
With two Miramonte teachers accused of lewd acts on students, the district faces potential legal liability that could run into the millions of dollars. In addition, the district is paying the old staff and a replacement staff.

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Miramonte teachers

Replacement teachers head toward their new classooms at Miramonte Elementary School. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / February 8, 2012)

    Also
    <b>Photos:</b> Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims Photos: Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims
    Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress
    Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
    Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated
    Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster? Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster?
    Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry
    See more stories »

By Howard Blume, Sam Allen and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

February 9, 2012
As the scandal over two Miramonte Elementary School teachers accused of committing lewd acts on children grows, it's becoming clear the Los Angeles Unified School District faces a heavy financial cost.

Miramonte will reopen Thursday with an all-new slate of teachers and administrators as well as custodians and cafeteria workers. But L.A. Unified will continue to pay the old staff even as they wait out the investigations at a high school under construction a few miles away.

It remains unclear how long this arrangement will last; the investigations are expected to take months to complete. The new hiring alone will run $5.7 million for the remainder of the school year, said district spokesman Thomas Waldman.

But those costs are likely to pale when compared to potential legal liability that experts said could run into the millions of dollars.

At least two dozen students at Miramonte Elementary have retained attorneys so far. The children allege they were victimized by teacher Mark Berndt, who was charged last week with 23 counts of lewd conduct.

Prosecutors allege that Berndt spoon-fed his semen to blindfolded students as part of what he called a "tasting game." Authorities last week announced that they had collected hundreds of disturbing photos Berndt had developed at a CVS pharmacy. In some, children are shown with a milky substance around their mouths or cockroaches crawling on their faces.

On Wednesday, detectives announced that they had discovered 200 more photos from the pharmacy late last week. Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dan Scott said the new photos are similar to the original ones and were found after the drugstore performed a computer search.

Scott said there are unidentified children in those photos, raising the specter of additional victims and more legal claims against the school system.

School district officials said they were aware that L.A. Unified, and possibly its insurers, are confronting potentially tens of millions of dollars in costs at a time of ongoing budget strains that have led to thousands of layoffs. But L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said that at this point, those costs are not as important as rebuilding parent trust.

"I don't often say this, but that is the least thing I am worried about," Deasy said when asked about the accumulating expenses. "The No. 1 issue is: How do we support students?"

The district has estimated there to be about 150 teachers and administrators at Miramonte, which is in unincorporated Florence-Firestone south of downtown Los Angeles.

District documents set the average Miramonte teacher's salary at $69,206. Health benefits cost thousands more per person. The average elementary school principal's salary is $107,331. Also replaced were plant workers, cafeteria help and clerical staff. In addition, officials said, they have hired 45 counselors — enough to serve every Miramonte classroom.

During the transition, Deasy closed Miramonte for two days. Every day of attendance is worth about $40 per student, according to state figures. Unless the lost schooling is made up or excused by the state, L.A. Unified would lose more than $100,000. The day before the school closed, attendance dipped from a typical 98% to 72%, according to updated district figures. That difference alone calculates to about $15,000.

Authorities said the Berndt case could involve more than 100 children over five years.

Legal experts said it is difficult to estimate the district's legal exposure, but they said one key fact is whether the plaintiffs can show the district knew of past problems with Berndt.

"If there have been complaints and a failure to investigate, that clearly strengthens their case," said Tom Lyon, a professor of law and psychology at USC who specializes in child-abuse prosecutions.

The fact that the alleged acts occurred inside the classroom is likely to challenge the district's defense, he said.

When Berndt, 61, was arrested, school district officials said they had no record of previous misconduct or complaints . But past episodes have since emerged.

One former student told The Times that during the 1990-91 school year that a counselor told her and two other girls to stop inventing stories after a complaint that Berndt appeared to be masturbating behind his desk. In 1994, detectives investigated a claim that Berndt had tried to touch a girl's genitals, though prosecutors deemed the evidence too weak to file charges.

And one father said he complained in 2008 to the Miramonte principal after his daughter brought home photographs that Berndt had taken of her. In one image, she was eating a cookie coated with what investigators now suspect is Berndt's semen.

"To prove negligent hiring, retention or supervision, there has to be some reason to think that this person was creating a problem, or having an issue" in the past, said John Nockleby, a professor at Loyola Law School.

    Also
    <b>Photos:</b> Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims Photos: Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims
    Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress
    Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
    Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated
    Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster? Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster?
    Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry
    See more stories »

But if the criminal cases collapse, the picture could change considerably, said Dmitry Gorin, a former sex-crimes prosecutor.

Although detectives say they retrieved a spoon with Berndt's semen on it, that does not mean they can prove he used that spoon in connection with the students, Gorin said.

Moreover, the Berndt case doesn't involve sexual assault. In some photos, the children are smiling, as if they are playing a game.

"This isn't an easy case despite all the media attention," Gorin said.

Juries have awarded hefty civil settlements to students who were victims of abuse, including a $10.8-million judgment in La Verne and a $3.75-million judgment in Orange County.

In 2008, a civil jury awarded nearly $1.6 million to three girls molested by a former school aide who worked at Miramonte.

For now, school officials said they are not focused on potential settlements.

"Cost has not been raised and I don't know when it will be raised," said board member Steve Zimmer. "The beginning, middle and end of the discussion is about the safety of children at the school. I don't want the superintendent to pause for even a nanosecond because of funding in his efforts to secure and stabilize that campus."

On Wednesday, Miramonte teachers met with their replacements and parents continued to protest the wholesale change in staff. School officials stressed that the staff being removed are not suspected of wrongdoing. In fact, sheriff's detectives said Wednesday that they have no plans to make further arrests at this time.
Title: Re: Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
Post by: Xelebes on February 12, 2012, 11:06:51 PM
Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress (http://http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-miramonte-20120212,0,222951.story?page=2&utm_medium=feed&track=rss&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20latimes%2Fnews%2Flocal%25)

Quote
Arrests shatter recent signs of Miramonte school's progress
The school was doing better on test scores, student activities and parental involvement. Charges against two teachers suddenly threaten those gains.

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Miramonte Elementary School

A teacher newly assigned to Miramonte Elementary leads her students out to recess. Many fear that recent gains at the school will be lost in the chaos surrounding abuse allegations. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / February 9, 2012)

    Also
    <b>Photos:</b> Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims Photos: Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims
    Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
    L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal
    Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated
    Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster? Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster?
    Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry
    See more stories »

By Teresa Watanabe and Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times

February 12, 2012
Until the photos surfaced, it didn't appear that anything was seriously amiss at Miramonte Elementary School.

The school was on the upswing. Test scores were rising. The campus south of downtown Los Angeles was bright with new paint, murals and $6 million in other improvements. A new principal brought in parent education workshops, student leadership programs and other activities. Even the neighborhood, notorious for gang violence and drugs, had calmed down.

Then came the bombshell: photos showing Miramonte schoolchildren blindfolded and gagged, pictured with spoons containing a milky substance that authorities allege was the semen of Mark Berndt, 61, a third-grade teacher who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct with children. Another teacher, Martin Springer, was arrested on suspicion of three counts of lewd conduct.

The school's gains now seem endangered by the turmoil, and families, staff and neighbors are wrestling with the haunting question of how this could have happened.

Perhaps there wouldn't be signs at any school. A suspect intent on using children in these ways might be able to slide by largely unnoticed, experts say.

But Miramonte faces particularly challenging conditions. It is the second-largest elementary school in California and one of the last remaining on a year-round calendar, with teachers and nearly 1,500 students on different schedules.

Families in the area rank among the poorest in L.A County. Two-thirds of adults have no high school diploma and about a third are single parents, twice the rate in the county overall. Nearly half the residents are immigrants, most from Latin American countries, and half the students are English learners.

"Parents who are unfamiliar with the system or uncomfortable because they don't speak the language … or work two or three jobs may not be as attentive to their children's education," said Yolie Flores, a Los Angeles school board member at the time the photos surfaced last year; she voted then to fire Berndt.

California Federation of Teachers president Joshua Pechthalt said vigilance can be harder in large schools like Miramonte. "When you create schools that are so large, students can get lost academically and emotionally, and teachers can get lost," he said.

Parents, current and former students, residents and others say there are no easy answers.

Dora Gonzalez, for instance, is a Honduran immigrant whose fifth-grade daughter Nancy attends Miramonte.

She is an involved parent who studies English daily, is working toward her high school diploma, participates in most family education workshops and is quick to meet with teachers over academic problems. She quizzed her daughter regularly when she had a male teacher to make sure he made no inappropriate advances.

Yolanda Rivera, another immigrant mother, warned her two children when they enrolled in Miramonte to tell her if any teacher touched them with more than a pat on their back, a hug or kiss on the cheek.

The mothers never saw or heard anything that raised their suspicions. "There were no signs that anything was wrong at the school," Gonzalez said.

As far as anyone knows at this point, one parent showed a former principal a photo of his child eating a cookie, and two girls told a counselor that Berndt often moved his hands under his desk near his lap.

School officials did not find the complaints serious enough to report to law enforcement. Another girl reported that Berndt fondled her in 1993, but prosecutors dropped the case for insufficient evidence.

Berndt was a popular teacher, students said. Often clad in casual Hawaiian shirts and shorts, he was known to give out Popsicles and lollipops every week. He played dodge ball and kickball with the kids. He was light on homework and took the students on field trips, joked around and gave children special nicknames: "Crystal pistol" for Crystal Ramirez, 21, a former Berndt student, for example.

"Everyone wanted him for their teacher because he was cool and fun," said Aileen Godinez, a seventh-grader and former Miramonte student.

Many children loved Berndt's collection of insects — roaches, butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies kept in containers on a classroom table. Ramirez recalled that Berndt's favorite subject was science, especially bugs. He read them books about insects and let the students play with them.

She said she never heard of, or participated in, any "tasting games," the name Berndt is said to have used in his alleged scheme to feed his semen to students in spoons. Some parents also suspect he smeared his semen on cookies he gave to the children.

Ramirez said she found a few unusual things about Berndt: the way he smeared Vaseline on his lips, his habit of putting his hand inside the waistband of his pants. He used to ask her to stay after school to work on reading, she said, but she never did.

    Also
    <b>Photos:</b> Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims Photos: Parent uproar over sex-abuse claims
    Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge Miramonte teacher was paid $40,000 to drop dismissal challenge
    L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal L.A. Unified faces hefty costs from Miramonte School scandal
    Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated Miramonte aide's love letters to pupil investigated
    Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster? Will L.A. Unified's response to abuse allegations pass muster?
    Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry
    See more stories »

Another former student, 21-year-old Dianna Amezcua, said Berndt would sit on the steps near the playground with his legs wide open, making it possible to see inside his shorts. When she would pick up her brother at Miramonte after moving on to middle school, she said, Berndt would invite her into his classroom to chat, offering ice cream or Popsicles. She accepted the treats but wouldn't go alone.

"Looking back, it was weird," she said. "But I was young. I wasn't going to notice things like that."

Lawyers for the dozens of plaintiffs now filing claims against the school district for alleged abuse say that the children largely didn't see anything wrong with the games played in Berndt's classroom and that they were happy to have the teacher's attention. Berndt, who is being held in County Jail, has not commented on the case, nor has his attorney.

One school staff member also said the faculty was always busy. The employee, who asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals by the L.A. Unified School District, said many teachers were constantly pressed to keep test scores up. Teachers were cordial and interacted during breaks but were not particularly social with one another beyond that, the staff member said.

"None of us had a clue to what was going on," the staff member said. "Each one of us goes, does their job and goes home."

The former principal, Richard Lopez, who worked at the school from 2000 to 2009, declined an interview request because he said he was cooperating with L.A. Unified's investigation of Berndt.

Several parents and students described Lopez as disengaged, saying they rarely saw him visit classrooms or attend assemblies. Some Spanish speakers said it was difficult to communicate with him, and parents said they do not recall regular meetings with him.

When Martin Sandoval became the principal in 2009, several Miramonte families said, he began building a more cohesive school environment. Fluent in Spanish, Sandoval reached out to parents, offering them workshops on how to help their children with reading and math.

He started a student council and school dances, mentored struggling students and promoted a guitar club started by a teacher, Jose Vergara, that drew a surprise visit to campus last spring by hip-hop artist Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas.

"He was always engaging students and got parents more involved," Oscar Proa, a 19-year-old former Miramonte student, said of Sandoval. "My mom hardly participated in any school things before, but now she's more active and feels more school pride."

The school was rocked in 2010 after the suicide of a popular teacher, and some union members said Sandoval was putting more pressure on teachers to raise test scores. But things were starting to get back on track before Berndt's arrest Jan. 30.

After L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy decided to replace the entire Miramonte staff last week, several parents and students worried about how they would deal with the new turmoil.

Last week, many students went to Miramonte hoping to say goodbye to their teachers and give them notes of thanks.

Student Nancy Gonzalez waited for Chanelle Thomas, her fifth-grade teacher who she said would stay after school to help struggling students and relentlessly hunt down their families for conferences about them.

Cristal Estrada, 14, went back to see Danilo Escalante, a teacher she said taught her not only reading and math but also about how to fight for your beliefs and work hard for success.

Esteban Rodriguez, 6, said his teacher, Petra Suvia, gave out presents of pencils and erasers, stickers and sharpeners, and he wanted her to return.

Proa frets that his sister, who tested proficient in reading and math last year for the first time, will backslide because of turmoil.

"The school had been improving so much, but now this happens and it's all destroyed," he said.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com (http://mailto:stephen.ceasar@latimes.com)

Times staff writers Howard Blume and Angel Jennings and data analyst Sandra Poindexter contributed to this report.