Miramonte: High-powered investigation never got off the ground

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A high-powered commission set up to investigate the Miramonte sexual abuse scandal never got off the ground, according to the woman asked to head the panel.

In the weeks after the scandal broke in 2012, L.A. Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy asked civil rights attorney Connie Rice to head up a blue-ribbon panel to look into how the scandal involving former teacher Mark Berndt unfolded, and how similar incidents might be prevented in the future. 

Rice told KPCC that she recruited former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton, former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Moreno, and other "big guns" who were "very good investigators."

Rice -- a former member of Southern California Public Radio's Board of Trustees -- said she spent months putting the commission together, only to receive an e-mail from Deasy informing her that the District no longer wanted to pursue the investigation, and that the panel would not be receiving any resources.

"I was not very happy when the plug got pulled," Rice said. "It took a lot of energy to pull that group together."

RELATED: Lurid new Miramonte details revealed; LAUSD admits it destroyed records

Rice said she could not recall exactly when Deasy sent her the e-mail, although she was certain it was "months and months and months ago." She said she had no idea why L.A. Unified decided not to move forward with her inquiry.

"It's a mystery," said Rice.

L.A. Unified spokesman Sean Rossal issued a statement suggesting that the District has not killed Rice's inquiry, but instead thinks the time is not right for it to begin.

"In order to allow Justice Moreno and Connie Rice to have the greatest access to information and materials, we felt it critical to wait for them to begin their work until after the litigation [related to Miramonte] concludes," Rossal said in the statement. "We look forward to being able to work with them on this effort in the near future."

When informed of the statement, Rice said the District's position was news to her.

A civil lawsuit against L.A. Unified on behalf of dozens of Miramonte students is scheduled to begin on July 8th.

 

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