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

Miramonte Elementary teacher calls LAUSD treatment unfair

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

Miramonte Elementary School is the center of a scandal where two teachers have been accused of engaging in lewd acts with students.

Miramonte Elementary School teachers have not spoken publicly for nearly three months since they were removed from their classrooms as part of an investigation into two separate cases of teachers arrested for lewd acts on children.

But they have spoken at union events to their peers.

KPCC has linked to a video of a statement made by one teacher in March at a meeting of the California Teachers Association's State Council, the union's top policy-making body. The meetings are typically not open to the public.

Maria Miranda, a first grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, calls L.A. Unified's treatment of the teachers "unfair" in her comments to her union peers. We provide excerpts below.

Excerpts:

"We are the teachers from Miramonte Elementary School...We take our job as mandated reporters very seriously, and the safety of our students has always been our top priority. We feel that our students have endured a traumatic experience due to the alleged incidents and to the removal of the entire staff at their school. Children were wronged, and teachers have been wronged as well."

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Miramonte Elementary teachers to speak out after months of silence

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Students outside Miramonte Elementary School demand their teachers return to the classrooms. L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy ordered their relocation to an unopened campus after two teachers, in two separate cases, were arrested for lewd acts upon children.

Miramonte Elementary School teachers who were removed from their classrooms during the investigation into two teachers arrested for misconduct will speak publicly on Thursday, after nearly three months of silence.

The "UTLA South Area Action" will be held outside the unopened Augustus F. Hawkins High School in South Los Angeles, where the teachers have been placed since Feb. 9.

A march with posters and chanting will begin at 3:30 p.m. around the campus, and teachers will read anonymous statements from their colleagues about their experience, said Ingrid Villeda, chair of the United Teachers Los Angeles South Area, which includes Miramonte Elementary School.

The entire elementary school staff — including teachers, the principal, teaching assistants and cafeteria workers — was removed over two pupil free days in early February after teachers Mark Berndt and Martin Springer were arrested, in two separate cases, for lewd acts upon children.

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Another bill to speed firing on teacher misconduct passes through committee

Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt

Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children. His case has led to multiple bills introduced by the state legislators to expedite the teacher dismissal process.

Another bill that aims to make it easier to dismiss teachers passed out of the California Assembly Education Committee this afternoon with amendments that significantly narrow and strip away the bulk of its reforms. 

AB2028, sponsored by Republican state Assemblymen Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley, would eliminate the four-year limitation on introducing evidence to be used in proceedings and allow the dismissal process to begin during the summer.

The bill as originally proposed matched resolutions on employee dismissal approved by the L.A. Unified school board in March, said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the Office of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway. The board approved the resolutions, which call on legislators to make changes to the education code, after a spate of reported sexual misconduct cases earlier this year.

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Bill would make it easier to dismiss teachers for 'serious and egregious misconduct'

CORRECTION Teacher Classroom Bondage

Flor Cervantes/AP

A bill that would make it easier to fire teachers accused of "serious and egregious misconduct" passed out of the California Senate Education Committee. Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt (above in 2003), charged with 23 charges of lewd conduct on children, was cited as one example of a case this would have helped expedite.

A California Senate bill that will make it easier to dismiss a teacher accused of "serious and egregious misconduct" with students has cleared its first hurdle, passing out of the Education Committee with several new amendments.

SB1530, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, would give school boards the last word in firing teachers accused of "serious and egregious misconduct" — offenses of sex, drugs and violence against children — making what was decided by a three-person panel called the Commission on Professional Competence an "advisory" decision by an administrative law judge. Evidence more than four years old could be used in the investigation and during proceedings for such misconduct crimes.

The bill as originally written was strongly opposed by the California Teachers Association. Padilla said he worked with CTA officials and members of the Committee to come up with several amendments he proposed today. Those include creating a new charge of "serious and egregious misconduct" under which immediate suspension would be allowed.

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Early reports: One teacher misconduct bill clears first hurdle

Miramonte Elementary School

Grant Slater/KPCC

Miramonte Elementary School is the center of a scandal where two teachers have been accused of engaging in lewd acts with students.

Early reports show at least one of two state Senate bills that aim to make it easier to dismiss a teacher accused of misconduct has cleared the first hurdle and will pass out of the Education Committee. 

SB1530, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, has the necessary six votes to pass out. The bill would give school boards more authority in firing teachers. It would also make the decision of a three-person panel on the dismissal instead a decision by just the administrative law judge, and the ruling would be advisory. The bill would only apply to cases involving sex, violence or drug offenses involving children. 

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy testified in support of the bill and has said the state is "long overdue" for a revamp of its laws governing teacher dismissal. A California Teachers Assn. official spoke against it. CTA spokesman Mike Myslinski declined to comment until the final vote counts were in.

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