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Supt. Deasy acknowledges LAUSD violated law by failing to notify state about accused Miramonte teacher

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Superintendent John Deasy acknowledged today that LAUSD violated state law when it failed to notify a state agency responsible for teacher credentialing of the suspension of Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to children. Deasy said the district has launched an internal investigation to determine why this happened.

The story was first reported Thursday by KPCC, which provided the district with a letter addressed to Deasy from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing dated Wednesday that stated that the district's failure to provide a timely report on teachers posed a "potential risk to student safety."

The state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing suspended Berndt's credential on Jan. 31, the same day he was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct on children. But according to the state code of regulations and the education code, the superintendent is required to inform the credentialing commission of Berndt's February 2011 suspension without pay by mid-March of 2011.

"LAUSD acknowledges that in the case of Mark Berndt, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing was not notified within the required timeline of Berndt’s change in employment status," Deasy said in a statement issued today. He said the failure to notify in this case "is contrary to standard district practice."

Deasy said the district has launched an internal investigation to determine the reasons for the untimely notification.

District spokesman Thomas Waldman said part of the investigation may entail combing through LAUSD records to determine "if there are any other cases for which either the district failed to inform in a timely manner or didn't file a report at all" to the commission. Waldman said he is not sure how far the district would go back.

According to the state code of regulations and the education code, when certain actions have been taken against a teacher, such as a dismissal or suspension without pay for more than 10 days, the superintendent is required to inform the commission of the change in employment status no more than 30 days after the action.

Here's Deasy's statement from today:

Yesterday, I was made aware through the media of the existence of a letter dated February 15, 2012 and addressed to me by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing stating that it had concerns about possible late reporting “of dismissal of credentialed employees while allegations of misconduct are pending.”  LAUSD acknowledges that in the case of Mark Berndt, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing was not notified within the required timeline of Berndt’s change in employment status. State law requires that school districts report changes in a teacher’s employment status as a result of allegations of misconduct within 30 days of the change in employment status. The failure to timely notify the CTC in this case, is contrary to standard district practice.  I have immediately launched an internal investigation to determine the reasons for the untimely notice in this case.  After LAUSD was informed by the Sheriff’s Department of Berndt’s arrest on January 30, 2012, LAUSD notified CTC on January 31, 2012.

This story has been updated.

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

 

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