SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School will be replaced when the school reopens Thursday, says LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
The announcement, made at a meeting Monday between officials and parents of the school’s students, comes amidst an investigation into multiple allegations of sex abuse taking place on school grounds.
Police informed members of the media they would not be allowed inside Monday night’s meeting per the school district. However, KNX’s Claudia Peschiutta was able to make her way into the standing room only auditorium and shared details from inside.
Deasy told parents the faculty and staff will be reassigned to a site that does not host students, and that many or all may return as the investigation is completed.
In the interim, each classroom will be staffed with a psychiatric social worker.
Deasy says the school district plans to interview every student who has attended the school and every adult who has worked at the school.
The investigation, he says, will be overseen by an independent commission chaired by a former California Supreme Court associate justice.
It was announced Monday that Miramonte would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Parents staged a protest Monday morning at the South Los Angeles elementary school where two teachers were arrested last week on suspicion of several bizarre sex crimes.
Peschiutta said parents at Monday night’s meeting were given a briefing by an LA County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant. He explained the months-long investigation process delayed notification to parents, as police did not want to taint potential victims and witnesses by making information public.
Parents were assured however that Mark Berndt, a 30-year Los Angeles Unified School District veteran, was removed from the classroom as soon as the alleged crimes were discovered.
Berndt was arrested Jan. 30 and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on a child. He was removed from the classroom one year prior.
Berndt, 61, reportedly took an estimated 300 photos of students bound, gagged and blindfolded in his classroom between 2008 and 2010. Some photos show cockroaches being placed on the students’ faces. Others are being fed a milky-white substance on a spoon that officials say tested positive for the teacher’s DNA.
Fellow Miramonte teacher Martin Springer, 49, was arrested Friday after two of his former students told police they were fondled in his classroom.