Published February 07, 2012
The sickening reports of two deviant teachers abusing students at a downtown Los Angeles elementary school has rocked not just the close community around the Miramonte School but stoked the emotions of parents across the country.
Now less than two weeks since the news broke with accusations against a veteran teacher and a second teacher, the school district has taken the drastic action to remove all staff from the building.
Concerned parents gathered outside the school Tuesday morning even though students have been told they have the next two days off as officials scramble to implement their decision to remove every adult worker from the school.
A tense meeting Monday night between Los Angeles school officials and parents resulted in the temporary removal of all teachers and staff from the Miramonte School where two teachers have been removed and jailed in recent days for allegedly sexually abusing students.
The superintendent's decision comes amidst much frustration and anger from parents who want to know how these teachers were allowed to interact with their children and fears that other adults at the Miramonte School could also be predators.
"My child can't speak for himself. And even though there are other kids right here that would like to speak out, they can't or they don't have the words or they are afraid to," parent Josie Corona said.
After a tumultuous start to the week the school will be closed until Thursday when an entirely new faculty and support staff will welcome the students' return. Miramonte's current workers will be relocated to another facility.
"Some might see this as an extreme measure but this is an extreme circumstance," Superintendent John Deasy wrote in a letter to school workers last night. "I need to take action within the scope of what I can control. This is it."
A school district official says the transfer of 128 teachers and staff will take place over the next two days. It is unclear how long Miramonte's current teachers will be kept away though Deasy's letter suggested it could be for the rest of the school year.
Deasy said his decision was based on the need to protect the students and allow them to move forward. He also noted that the past week has placed an immense instructional and emotional burden on the staff. The removal order will allow the district "to both have the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of what happened at Miramonte and provide support services."
After hearing the plan at Monday night’s tension-filled meeting many parents applauded the decision. "That's very harsh, very extreme measurement they took but I think it's all because they don't want to be blamed," Armondo Medel said.
The firestorm at Miramonte started last week with teacher Mark Berndt's arrest. He's accused of abusing at least 23 children and came under investigation after a film processing clerk notified authorities about some disturbing pictures Berndt had dropped off. His arraignment hearing was postponed to February 21.
Another longtime teacher, Martin Springer, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. Prosecutors charged Springer Tuesday with committing lewd-acts upon one girl in 2009.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.