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Miramonte Elementary scandal: 14 moms file lawsuit over Mark Berndt case

July 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fourteen mothers are filing a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday over the sex-abuse scandal involving former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt.

Berndt was arrested earlier this year on 23 counts of lewd acts on children ages 6 to 10. The former third-grade teacher is accused of blindfolding students, covering their mouths with tape and placing items in front of their faces. The investigation began after Berndt, a teacher at the school for 30 years, tried to develop photos of students, and a film processor at a CVS turned them over to police.

This is the third lawsuit filed against LAUSD in this case. Two other lawsuits were filed in May - one representing 11 students and another representing 20 students.

In the latest lawsuit, the mothers claim their kids were abused by Berndt between 2002 to 2011 and that the district was negligent. The parents allege the LAUSD did not protect their children, despite previous complaints against Berndt that go back to the early 1990s.

One complaint was by a student in the 1990-1991 year for inappropriate conduct, and another was by a female student in 1993 who claimed Berndt fondled her.

"The 22 kids we represent, the first case started in 2002, so if the district had been doing their job, it would have remedied the situation. They would have removed this teacher from Miramonte, and we wouldn't have had all these tragedies," said the parents' attorney Luis Carrillo.

LAUSD responded to the lawsuit in a statement that said, "The District is committed to working with the Miramonte community and everyone impacted by these incidents to improve trust and promote healing. While the District has yet to receive the latest complaint, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff."

Superintendent John Deasy said the district tried to fire Berndt when the photographs were discovered last year. But he said state law prevented it, and Berndt was able to appeal his termination. He was allowed to resign and maintain his pension.


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