Attorneys Luis Carrillo (L) and Brian Claypool (R) talking to reporters about their clients' civil lawsuits over alleged lewd acts against Miramonte students
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Mackey on Thursday ruled that two lawyers could back out of settlement talks with the Los Angeles Unified School district over alleged abuses at Miramonte Elementary. The attorneys said the district's offers after four months were "insignificant."
The first trail has been scheduled for September 23.
The lawyers, representing students and parents who allege they were harmed by former teacher Mark Berndt, had agreed to suspend litigation last fall. They pulled out of mediation last week and filed a motion with the court to be allowed out of the deal.
At least 120 other cl;aims releated to Brendt's actions are still in negotiation. David Holmquist, LAUSD's lawyer, said he's been working towards resolving the pending lawsuits and hopes to spare the children the trauma of testifying in court.
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.
Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images
Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2012.
Two lawsuits filed by Miramonte Elementary parents against the LA Unified School District are on hold. The civil suits allege that the district neglected warnings about dozens of alleged child abuse cases.
Attorney Luis Carrillo is the one who pushed for the stay. He says the temporary delay gives his clients a chance to engage in settlement discussions with the school district.
The talks would be facilitated by a mediator and could begin as early as November.
Carrillo also argues the hold will spare alleged victims the emotional distress of going through grueling depositions.
"You have to remember that in a deposition process a child would be asked questions for many hours by opposing attorneys and that’s not helpful to the child," he said in a phone conversation shortly after the ruling.
File: An empty classroom.
Outside the courthouse, Dorsey High School chemistry teacher David Wu lingered to talk about today's ruling. He has worked for L.A. Unified for five years, initially starting under Teach for America.
"I really wanted a deadline," Wu said. "...I've been in the system for five years and I'm afraid that when July 24 rolls around, the district and UTLA will not actually agree on something that the judge would like to hear."
He said he is "all for" having student performance data included in his teaching evaluation.
"I've never had a job where performance and some type of performance data wasn't tied to my evaluation. It's absurd," Wu said. "Even as little or as much. It's absurd to me. One of my biggest goals to get kids to learn is this test and beyond that test...If it's one part of the multiple measures, I'm all for it."
Attorney Scott Witlin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and EdVoice president Bill Lucia (left to right) talk to the media about the decision in the case of Doe v. Deasy on June 12, 2012. The judge ruled LAUSD must include student performance data as part of its evaluation of teachers and school administrators.
L.A. Unified must include student progress as a measure in teacher evaluations in order to abide by state law, a judge ruled at a hearing Tuesday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant affirmed his 25-page tentative ruling (with minor modifications) that was issued Monday in a more than hour-long court hearing today after a bevy of attorneys representing the district, United Teachers Los Angeles, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, and others, made their final arguments in Doe vs. Deasy.
Chalfant left the details of how the district must comply with the "pupil progress requirement" primarily to its discretion. He said details such as the system of measurement, how that plays into a teacher's evaluation and how much it is weighted, may all require collective bargaining.