SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Miramonte Elementary School will be closed for two days in the wake of sex crime allegations involving two teachers.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy announced Monday night that 88 teachers and 40 staff members will be replaced when classes resume Thursday.
He told parents that faculty and staff will be reassigned to a site that does not host students, and that many or all may return when the investigation is completed.
In the interim, each classroom will be staffed with a rigorously screened teacher, as well as a psychiatric social worker.
The teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, says it supports the district’s decision.
Deasy says the district plans to interview every student who has attended the school and every adult who has worked there.
The investigation, he says, will be overseen by an independent commission chaired by a former California Supreme Court associate justice.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s lieutenant told parents the months-long investigation process was initially kept quiet, as authorities 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. Springer, who is being held on $2 million bail, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.
The district is also scheduled to discuss his firing Tuesday at another closed-door meeting.