So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

'I don't want them to take my teacher away,' says Miramonte Elementary student

Teacher Classroom Bondage

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Members of the media gather outside the Miramonte Elementary school on Friday. A second teacher pulled from a classroom at Miramonte Elementary School this week was arrested Friday, just days after a third-grade teacher was charged with lewd acts involving photographing nearly two dozen children for sexual thrills, authorities said.

When sixth-grader Jasmine Garcia, 11, returns to class at Miramonte Elementary School on Thursday she will be greeted by an entirely new group of teachers and school staff.

She and her mother, Michelle Medina, 33, attended L.A. Unified's meeting for concerned parents Monday night where Superintendent John Deasy informed them of the drastic changes to the school including the relocation of all staff, after two teachers were arrested on lewd conduct charges last week.

"I don't think it's fair for teachers working there so many years," Medina said. "My daughter has been going to school since preschool and is about to graduate in June and the teacher is not going to be there. It's not fair."

Jasmine spoke quietly about what happened with an embarrassed smile.

"I think it's sad because my teacher helps me with a lot, I don't know, I don't want them to take my teacher away," Jasmine said.

She knew Mark Berndt, one of the teachers arrested last week and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts against students from 2005 to 2010. Berndt is accused of having fed kids his semen with a spoon or on a cookie, and sometimes placing giant Madagascar cockroaches on their faces.

"We used to go help him," Jasmine said. "He used to show us his cockroaches, but he never touched us or anything."

Medina has two kids at Miramonte plus one that already graduated. She had grilled her kids about their interactions with the teachers. Her other daughter, fourth-grader Ashely Garcia, 9, never knew the teachers but was so upset about the news that she had been refusing to go to school. On Monday, Medina got her to go to class.

"It bothers her, though she's not a victim," Medina said. "She's like, 'Mom, can we trust anybody?' I told her, well if you have anybody touch you or hurt you, let me know."

Medina said she was happy that each class would have a counselor in it on Thursday and that that would help her with Ashley.

Like other parents though, Medina said she was left with more questions after the meeting.

"The meeting was supposed to be for them to answer questions, but they didn't answer questions, they told us they're going to move" everyone, Medina said. 

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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