As L.A. Probes Sex Abuse Charges, Staff Replaced At Elementary School

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"In a dramatic move to quell parents' fears, Los Angeles school officials said they will temporarily replace the entire staff of an elementary school south of downtown Los Angeles, where two teachers have been accused of lewd acts against students," the Los Angeles Times writes.

KPCC's Pass/Fail blog says that "the district has never relocated an entire staff before." The changes at Miramonte Elementary School "will affect everyone from the principal to secretaries to teachers to custodians, [L.A. Unified Superintendent John] Deasy said. The staff will be moved to another school [where they will have no] student contact. Those who are not being investigated will continue to be paid, Deasy said." There are about 130 staffers being replaced.

As KPCC has previously reported, two teachers from the school have been arrested in recent weeks. Martin Bernard Springer, a second-grade teacher, is accused of "sexual misconduct with two girls who were 7-years-old at the time." Third-grade teacher Mark Berndt has been charged "with lewd acts involving 23 children."

Berndt and Springer are both in custody. Bail has been set at $23 million for Berndt and $2 million for Springer.

School officials tell the Times that "many, maybe all, of the current Miramonte staff will be returned to the school eventually." It adds that:

"Officials emphasized that no other educators at the school are under suspicion but that a bold act was needed to help remove the cloud over Miramonte. 'I cannot have another student tell me he is afraid,' Deasy told parents."

According to NBC Los Angeles:

"Come Thursday, Deasy said, the school will be restaffed and then some. Social workers will be placed in every classroom, and all staff and students from the past 30 years will be interviewed. Teachers from Miramonte school will be moved to another school that is currently under construction and has no students."

The school is closed today and Wednesday as it prepares for the staff change.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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