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Miramonte Elementary School Reopens To Students Thursday

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Miramonte Elementary School reopened Thursday morning to parent protestors after the entire staff was replaced following a sex scandal that resulted in the arrest of two longtime teachers.

The South Los Angeles school was closed Tuesday and Wednesday after Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy ordered the school to clean house, replacing all faculty, administrators and employees.

Teachers Mark Berndt, 61, and 49-year-old Martin Springer were arrested last week and face felony charges of lewd acts on a child.

teach1 Miramonte Elementary School Reopens To Students Thursday

Mark Berndt (courtesy LASD)

Berndt was arrested Jan. 30 after hundreds of photos surfaced of students bound, gagged and blindfolded in his classroom between 2008 and 2010. Some photos show cockroaches being placed on the students’ faces. In other pictures, police say the children are being fed a milky-white substance on a spoon or cookies.

Berndt, a 30 year teaching veteran, faces 23 counts of lewd acts on a child and is being held on $23 million bail.

Springer was arrested Friday following allegations that he fondled a former student in 2010. He is facing three counts of lewd acts on a child and is currently being held on bail.

Both Springer and Martin are no longer employed by the LAUSD.

The L.A. County sheriff’s Department mistakenly reported that Springer posted bail Thursday night. He still remains in jail.

Some Miramonte parents were unhappy with the school shake-up, chanting “No new teachers!” Meanwhile, other parents decided to take their children elsewhere as the district estimated that some of the classes were only 25 percent full.

The displaced teachers, administrators, clerical and custodial staff remain on the LAUSD payroll and will be assigned to Augustus Hawkins High School, which is now under construction, and will open in the fall. Those teachers will not have to report to work until Monday, district officials said.

The cost of the replacement staff of 169 people is $5.7 million through June 30. The money is coming from the general fund, but soon may be coming from other sources, officials said.

Some Miramonte parents say the removal of all the schools teachers was unnecessary, reports KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz.

In a letter to LAUSD employees, Deasy said every class at Miramonte will be taught by a two-person team made up of an instructor and counselor.

“We are gonna open with an opportunity to tell children the facts and we will talk about what has happened. We will introduce the teacher with a social worker,” said LAUSD spokesperson Pia Escudero.

Counseling is also being offered to all current and former Miramonte students.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies discovered 200 new photos allegedly taken by Mark Berndt at a South Bay CVS after the drug store did an additional search of its computers.

The LAUSD is currently conducting an internal investigation.

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