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News

Miramonte Staff Shakeup Ruffles Parents, One Girl Recants Accusations of Abuse

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Image via Miramonte Elementary
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Miramonte Elementary might be closed for another day as they work to situate a completely new staff from the custodians to the secretaries and every teacher, but the community at large still has the school under scrutiny.

The controversial staff shakeup has some parents, as well as staff and students, upset. Now comes word one girl has recanted her allegations of abuse at the hands of one of the school's ousted teachers.

Some parents, students, and staff from Miramonte are frustrated at the Los Angeles Unified School District's dumping of the school employees, saying it is "causing unnecessary disruptions for pupils of the school," reports City News Service, and that it is not an adequate addressing of the problem.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who called for the gutting of the staff and their paid re-assignment to situations in which they do not deal with children (likely the "rubber room" scenario for many), says the investigation of Miramonte is aimed at determining if the school operated by a "culture of silence," which led to a cover-up of the alleged crimes committed at the school by two long-term teachers.

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Mark Berndt, at Miramonte for over 30 years, and Martin Springer, at Miramonte for close to 25 years, are both facing numerous accusations of performing lewd acts on children. Berndt is charged with 23 counts of such abuse, including allegations he spoon fed blindfolded students his own semen during an activity he called the "Tasting Game."

Springer, however, is facing charges involving only one student. A second girl who had come forward has since recanted her allegations, reports L.A. Now.

Both men were arrested last week, though Berndt had been removed from the campus a year ago when an investigation into the allegations of encounters between 2005 and 2010 was launched.

Today, Miramonte's exiting teachers will be there to hand off teaching materials and instructions to their replacements. Deasy said the classes at the elementary school in unincorporated Florence will be taught by "a two-person team made up of an instructor and counselor." Counseling will be offered to all students and their families.