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Calif. teacher credentialing agency receives 65 reports on LAUSD teacher misconduct in one week

Teacher Classroom Bondage

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt has been charged with 23 lewd acts upon a child. LAUSD says it broke the law by not providing a timely report on his case to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has received 65 reports of teacher misconduct from LAUSD in the past week, an agency spokeswoman said today.

The commission sent Superintendent John Deasy a letter Feb. 15 by fax and U.S. post informing him that the district was posing a "potential risk to student safety" by not filing the timely reports required by state regulation when a teacher's employment status changes. Deasy said last week the district had still not received the letter.

The commission sent a follow-up letter by fax and post Feb. 17, which the district said it received.

In the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, accused of spoon-feeding his semen to children, KPCC reported that the district did not file paperwork with the commission until nearly a year after it moved to dismiss Berndt.

In response, Deasy ordered an internal investigation into how the district reports teachers accused of misconduct to the commission. He said the district will report (or re-report) every case of a teacher accused of misconduct over the last three academic years, plus this year, to the state credentialing commission.

District spokesman Thomas Waldman said he would have to check with the commission on the details of the particular numbers reported.

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 state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing of the change in employment status no more than 30 days after the action.

When the commission is notified it then has the ability to investigate and recommend a particular case go forward to its Committee of Credentials for review. During this process the committee can decide to take action against the teacher in various ways, including a private admonition, as well as suspending or revoking his credential. The committee is looking at unprofessional conduct, not necessarily whether the conduct rises to the level that may results in a criminal conviction.

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

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