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Attorneys for Miramonte kids say LAUSD is not negotiating abuse claims in good faith

Miramonte lawsuits

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Attorneys Luis Carrillo (L) and Brian Claypool (R) talk to reporters about their clients' civil lawsuits against LAUSD over alleged lewd acts against children committed by teachers.

Lawyers representing 35 students who say they were abused by a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School want to pull out of settlement negotiations with LAUSD.

The attorneys - Luis Carrillo and Brian Claypool - said the school district is not making much of an effort to compensate the children who they said were victimized by Mark Berndt. Berndt is facing 23 criminal charges for feeding some of his students cookies laced with his own body fluids.

“We spent three full days in mediation, as did Mr. Carillo’s group of clients and I think only three offers were made and they were insignificant," Claypool said at a press conference in Pasadena.

LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist said the attorneys' complaints are unfounded.

“We have been working with counsel for all parties involved, including Mr. Claypool and Mr. Carrillo, to develop a reasonable and fair resolution process and reach resolutions that provide for the ongoing educational and health needs of the students," he said in a written statement.

Claypool and Carrillo had agreed to suspend litigation until the spring, while they worked on settlements with the district.  They plan to ask a judge later this week to allow them to move forward with jury trials.  

It’s the only way his clients will receive “the recognition of the profound grief and despair that these children have endured and will continue to endure throughout their entire lifetime,” said Claypool. 

In a press conference last week, Holmquist said he hoped to settle 189 pending lawsuits filed on behalf of students and parents at Miramonte by the end of January.

Former Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso is overseeing the mediation process between the district and 16 law firms.

If any settlements are reached, the would be funded by the school district's liability fund and an insurance policy. 

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