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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Status Conference Held in Miramonte Abuse Case

A status conference was held Tuesday in the Miramonte Elementary sexual abuse case against LAUSD.

A status conference in a group of negligence lawsuits against Los Angeles Unified School District was held Tuesday morning on behalf of Miramonte Elementary School students.

The lawsuits claim that complaints against the lewd actions of a Miramonte teacher were ignored by the district.

LAUSD has already agreed to a $30 million settlement which will give each victim about $470,000.

This is the largest payout involving only one teacher to ever occur in the district.

Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested on 23 counts of lew acts on children ages between the ages of six and 10.

Berndt's investigation began after a CVS film processor gave police photos depicting Berndt's abuses against his students.

The pictures showed Berndt blindfolding children and feeding them cookies laced with semen, exposing himself, masturbating, and touching the children.

He also made some children pose with cockroaches on their faces.

After an initial investigation, it was determined that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Berndt.

He was finally arrested in 2011, a year before the photos were released.

Some of the 23 cases involved other Miramonte teachers as well, including Martin Springer who was chargerd with lewd acts toward a second grader in 2009, as well as two other suspected abusers.

In response to Berndt's arrest, the school district chose to temporarily remove all 76 of the school's teachers along with staff and administrators in order to assure parents of their children's safety.

These employees were put on leave of absence and reported to an empty high school nearby.

Over half of the teachers returned when the new school year began in August, and the rest either retired or found other jobs.

Some parents and students voiced their support of these teachers, while others wished the school would have hired a completely new staff.

The case is against the school district, which is essentially being charged for failure to protect students.

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