L.A. Sheriff's Department
Accused teacher Mark Berndt.
An arraignment is scheduled for Mark Berndt, the former Miramonte Elementary School teacher arrested for multiple counts of lewd acts with children, on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Berndt, who taught at the school for 30 years, has been accused by police of taking photos of blindfolded and gagged students with roaches on their faces or spoons of semen held to their mouths.
His arrest on Jan. 30 was the first in a series of child-abuse related arrests since then, including one of Berndt's fellow teachers, Martin Springer, who is being charged with lewd acts relating to one child.
Since then, the school's staff has been entirely replaced.
Miramonte Elementary School scandals get muddier as more is revealed.
There have been two new developments in the Miramonte child abuse scandals, both via the L.A. Times.
First, the Times reports former Miramonte teacher's aide Araceli Luisjuan allegedly wrote three love letters to an 11-year-old boy. The mother told the Times that she made the discovery in June 2009:
"One letter, meant as a short-term farewell note, included a passage that the mother found especially disturbing: 'When I was writing this letter, I was crying. My heart was breaking into pieces," wrote the teacher's aide, who has been identified as Areceli Luisjuan. "Oh! I didn't tell you that I like when you put your arm around my shoulder, and if I told you not to do that it's because I don't want to put you in trouble, but I like it…'"
The distraught mother said the teacher's aide appeared to be in her 50s. Luisjuan was in the process of being relocated to a nearby middle school, hence the parting nature of the letters.
Parents of students at Miramonte Elementary School escort they children out of school on February 6, 2012.
Miramonte Elementary School second-grade teacher Martin Bernard Springer will face charges following last week's arrest on suspicion of fondling two girls, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced Tuesday. The charges relate to one of the alleged victims. Springer faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.
The girls, approximately 7-years-old at the time of the incidents, were allegedly fondled in the classroom. Like co-worker Mark Berndt who's being held on $23 million after being charged with 23 lewd acts against children, taught his entire career at Miramonte.
In a closed session earlier Tuesday, the LAUSD board unanimously approved the firing Martin Springer, as well as the firing of Hamilton High School music magnet teacher Vance Miller accused of sexual battery against students during the mid-1990s through 2010, as reported by KPCC's Tami Abdollah.
Attorney Luis Carillo represents several parents of Miramonte Elementary School students in the cases against the district.
This morning marked the first meeting of the “Madres de Miramonte,” a parents group that has formed to confront twin child abuse scandals at the school. Two of the school's teachers were arrested last week for allegedly committing lewd acts against children.
Disgruntled parents have called for Principal Martin Sandoval to respond to the accusations that have rippled through Miramonte. Morning demonstrators protested on the campus, bringing signs and banners and calling Sandoval purposefully evasive.
After this morning’s protest, former state Sen. Martha Escutia rounded up around 60 parents, mostly mothers, and took them to a neighboring house to plan a demonstration for later in the day, when Superintendent John Deasy will speak to parents at a nearby high school.
At the impromptu gathering, some have voiced their anger over Deasy's change in venue. They say physically relocating the meeting to the recently opened school takes away from the issue at hand, and is an attempt to distract from conversation.
Some parents have formed "Madres de Miramonte."
Some parents at Miramonte Elemntary planned to protest outside the school Monday, as LAUSD Supertintendent John Deasy scheduled a meeting with parents for Monday night and canceled classes at the school Tuesday and Wednesday.
The timing of the protest and the number of parents who planned to appear was not clear. The closure is related to the investigation and aftermath of the arrested teachers.
Last week teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who worked at the school for 32 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. He's accused of blindfolding children and feeding them his own semen in his classroom in what children were allegedly told was a "tasting game." He is being held on $23 million bail.
Four days after Berndt was arrested, another teacher, Martin Springer, 49, was arrested on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He is being held on $2 million bail.