Miramonte Elementary School scandal may get FBI investigation

LOS ANGELES

Attorney Brian Claypool says Los Angeles Unified School District staff and administrators knew about former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt 20 years ago and did nothing.

Berndt is accused of lewd acts on 23 students. He 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.

The FBI has consulted with the sheriff's department to determine if federal or state charges should be filed, but at this time, prosecution is being handled by Los Angeles County.

Meantime, 14 mothers are filing a lawsuit against the LAUSD over the sex-abuse scandal. The mothers say the district was negligent, saying it did not protect their children from Berndt despite previous complaints against the teacher that dates back to the early 1990s.

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.

LAUSD 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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