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LAUSD working to settle Miramonte lawsuits

Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt is seen in court in this undated file photo.

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The LAUSD announced Wednesday that it is working to settle lawsuits filed by dozens of victims of alleged sexual abuse at Miramonte Elementary School.

The announcement came as attorneys announced new lawsuits by four additional alleged victims of teacher Mark Berndt. The third-grade teacher at Miramonte was arrested in January on numerous sexual misconduct charges.

Lawyers John Manly and retired state Sen. Martha Escutia characterized the four cases as the "tip of a new iceberg" of claims against the district for what they maintain is a failure to report and prevent child abuse at Miramonte and other LAUSD campuses.

The district already faces three lawsuits filed by 33 current and former students and parents.

"Although the school district has yet to receive this latest complaint, we are continuing to pursue an early resolution process with everyone impacted," LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist said in a statement. "Our sincerest hope is that through this process, we can avoid the potential pain of lengthy litigation while promoting healing and improving trust with the community."

Manly and Escutia have also asked that the LAUSD release all reports of alleged abuse by teachers at Miramonte and other district campuses. Manly said the new lawsuits were filed to stop the district from "shoving the scandal under the rug."

Berndt is currently awaiting trial on multiple abuse counts.