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Miramonte abuse scandal: Lawyers claim new evidence

December 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Lawyers representing students and parents in a civil suit are leveling new accusations at the Los Angeles Unified School District over the Miramonte Elementary School abuse scandal.

Attorneys representing nearly 70 children and parents from Miramonte Elementary School say they have proof that the LAUSD ignored alleged lewd and lascivious acts by teacher Mark Berndt.

They say they have newly discovered documents supporting their allegations that there were clear signs of such behavior against children by Berndt.

"This is a pattern of years by the Los Angeles Unified School District to intentionally suppress and conceal evidence of suspected child abuse," said attorney Brian Claypool.

Berndt is now in jail. He is pleading not guilty to criminal charges of lewd and lascivious behavior.

There is a separate civil action against the school district. Parents are suing the school district for what allegedly happened. The school district denies wrongdoing and has been trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement in the civil action.

The school district documents include a state auditor report that the district mishandled allegations of misconduct. The document says they failed to report at least 144 cases of teacher misconduct in a timely manner.

"The L.A. Unified School District was put on notice about the alarm bells and the triggers that were going off and yet they didn't hear them and they didn't see them," said attorney Luis Carrillo.

The school district issued a statement on the Miramonte case: "The school district has consistently sought to resolve the claims in the Miramonte matter in a way that respects the needs of the students. Our primary goal in this process is supporting the health and well-being of the students."


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