After former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt was charged with lewd acts upon 23 children, Los Angeles Unified was hit with a torrent of complaints about other teachers and staffers across the district.
These new allegations ranged from "child annoyance" to serious sexual misconduct and, to date, have resulted in charges of lewd acts or unlawful sex being filed against six other district employees. The 2011 arrest of one teacher for lewd acts was also recently made public after the Miramonte scandal broke.
The Huffington Post has also learned the names and schools of five more teachers or teacher's aides across the district that have been "housed" (removed to a non-teaching setting) while authorities investigate complaints about their conduct. They don't face criminal charges, are still technically employed by the district and are entitled to due process before the school board seeks dismissal.
These "housed" instructors include Hamilton High School music teacher Vance Miller, who is currently being sued by former students who claim to have engaged in sexual intercourse with him while in high school.
The increase in accusations reflects a "hyper-vigilant" school community that has become more attune to questionable behavior -- not an uptick in abuse, LA Unified mental health and crisis counseling services director Pia Escudero explained to the Los Angeles Times.
LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy has taken sweeping measures in response to district-wide sex abuse charges. After charges of lewd acts were filed against Miramonte teachers Mark Berndt and another teacher, Martin Springer, Deasy replaced the entire staff at the elementary school.
Deasy has also ordered all schools to submit or re-submit every complaint of teacher misconduct to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing dating back four years, reports KPCC. He did this in response to the credentialing commission's evaluation that the LAUSD broke the law by waiting one year to report the reason for Berndt's termination in 2011. State laws require school districts to report terminations due to teacher misconduct within 30 days, notes the Daily News.
Deasy is also challenging the teachers' unions to make a change in the teacher contract that may potentially be shielding abusers, reports the Los Angeles Times. A little-known clause currently calls for the purging of misconduct reports after four years if the accusations go unproven. Deasy would eliminate that clause to make it easier for administrators to spot problem teachers.
As investigations and charges filed against LA Unified staffers develop, we will continue to update this information.
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