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Parents Say Their Daughter Was a Victim of Both Teachers at Miramonte Elementary Being Investigated for Lewd Acts

Image via Miramonte Elementary
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The parents of one child at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles are alleging that their daughter was the victim of the two teachers arrested this week on suspicion of committing lewd acts against a child.

Back in 2008, when their daughter was a second-grader, their daughter came home with a picture of her and another girl eating a cookie. The parents didn't have any idea what was going on, but they thought it was strange, they told the Los Angeles Times. (The parents' names are being kept anonymous to protect the identity of their daughter.)

"I didn't like it at all. I thought, why would a teacher be taking pictures of my daughter?" the father told the Times. "I got very upset right then and there."

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The Times took a look at some of the pictures that Mark Berndt sent home with the girl not long after she started the second grade. The picture shows the girl smiling and being fed a cookie by another student. There is a faint, light-colored substance on top of the cookie, which is disturbing since Berndt is being accused of feeding semen-smeared cookies to his students.

The father said that the school administrator at the time brushed off his concerns, telling the father that the cookie-eating was probably part of a class project, according to the Times. (This provides another example of how some members of the community did seem to notice that something might be awry in Berndt's classroom.)

The principal did agree to switch the girl to another classroom: the classroom of Martin Bernard Springer, the second teacher at Miramonte Elementary to be under investigation for lewd acts against children. It was the girl's allegations that led to the investigation against Springer that resulted in his dismissal from the classroom, police said. He is accused of inappropriately touching the girl on her leg and thigh. The father said he made a complaint to local authorities at the time, but he said he never heard back from them.

The Times was able to confirm that the girl switched classrooms in 2008, but police were looking for the years-old police report made against Springer.

The father found his wife crying on the floor the day that the Berndt allegations made public. He told the Times: "As a parent, it's very painful. I don't want to know much more."