Terrible allegations of sex abuse by two elementary school teachers are being investigated in Los Angeles.
Instead of deflecting, finger pointing or downplaying the issue to concerned parents, guess what Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy did last night?
He replaced the entire 120 member staff at Miramonte Elementary School. From the principal all the way down to cafeteria workers – the entire staff has been replaced for the duration of the investigation. All employees sent home will be paid even though officials have no idea how long that could take.
“The last thing I’m worried about is a budget issue,” Deasy said. “The number one thing I’m worried about is the students.”
This man has more gumption, more humanity, more EVERYTHING in his pinky finger than the group of adults involved in covering up the Sandusky situation at Penn State have combined.
Sure, the spotlight is already on him, as opposed to a bunch of cowardly adults whispering around behind closed doors in the hallowed halls of Penn State, but still, this is a model way to handle horrific situations like these. Deasy told a crowd of parents at the high school gymnasium, “We intend to interview every adult, every adult who works at that school, whether they are a teacher or administrator, or whether they are an after-school playground worker or a custodian or a secretary. I mean every single solitary adult who works at Miramonte”.
The news comes after the arrest of two male teachers who’d been at Miramonte for a long time: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer. 61-year-old Berndt, who worked at Miramonte for 32 years, is charged with committing lewd acts on 23 elementary age children between 2005 and 2010 including blindfolding kids and feeding them his semen which he told them was part of a testing game. Springer, 49, is accused of fondling two girls in his classroom.
Berndt,was arrested Monday at his home after a film processor gave police photos showing blindfolded children with their mouths taped and cockroaches on their faces. As USA Today reports:
Some of the photos showed Berndt with his arm around children or with his hand over their mouth.
Other pictures depicted girls with what appears to be a spoon up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest a clear-white liquid.
Sheriff’s Lt. Carlos Marquez of the Special Victims Bureau said it was determined the children were given semen on a spoon or on a cookie. A blue plastic spoon and container found in trash in Berndt’s classroom tested positive for semen, the sheriff’s statement said.
None of the photos showed the students actually eating the semen, but Marquez said the children reported they didn’t like the taste.
Authorities are recommending the children be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
None of the kids ever mentioned the incidents because they were told and believed it was a game.
Surprisingly, to me at least, parents are divided over the decision to temporarily replace the staff. Maria Jimenez tells the Associated Press, “Some are in favor. Others are against it because they did this without advising us or consulting us,” she said.
Who cares whether the consulted you! It’s the right move! Tell me a couple teachers at my daughter’s school are nutso molesters and I’d have trouble sending her back, period. Replacing the staff shows dedication to making it right and doing everything within their power to not let it happen again.
Investigators say they don’t think the child sex abuse cases are connected, but the men did take a couple of joint field trips over the past decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.
What are your thoughts about the way the district is handling the situation? If this were your child’s school, what would you do? How would you react?