LA official: Faculty to be removed at school

ROBERT JABLON Associated Press Published:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The faculty at Miramonte Elementary School will be removed following allegations of child sex abuse, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Monday night during a meeting with parents.

The move follows the arrest of two teachers on lewd conduct charges.

Teacher Mark Berndt was charged last week with committing lewd acts on 23 children. Another teacher, Martin Springer, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom.

Deasy said staffers are being replaced because a full investigation of allegations is disruptive, and staffers require support to get through the scandal.

An entire staff has been trained to come into classrooms at Miramonte to take over teaching for the time being.

There will also be a psychiatric social worker in every classroom to help students and staff cope with any issues that need to be dealt with.

Many children stayed home Monday while parents demanded more protection at an elementary school where two teachers are suspected of molesting students in class.

More than a quarter of the students at Miramonte Elementary School were absent, with attendance reaching just 72 percent, according to figures from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

About three dozen parents and supporters protested in front of the main doors of the school earlier Monday, some carrying a banner that read, "We the parents demand our children be protected from lewd teacher acts."

As night fell, about 100 angry parents marched from the elementary school to the nearby meeting with administrators.

School police watched and sheriff's deputies were on hand, but there was no violence.

The district set up a toll-free hotline on Monday to receive reports of suspected abuse at Miramonte, said school board President Monica Garcia in a statement.

Garcia added that the district would step up efforts to ensure students and staff realized the importance of reporting misconduct.

In the same school district, a janitor at a San Fernando Valley elementary school was arrested on suspicion of committing a lewd act with a child on a campus.

Paul Adame, 37, was taken into custody after a mother told police on Sunday that he had inappropriate contact with her child during school hours Friday at Germain Elementary School in the Chatsworth area north of Los Angeles, police Capt. Kris Pitcher said at a news conference.

The captain declined to provide details but urged anyone who might know of other possible victims to contact police.

Adame was booked and released on $100,000 bail Monday. It could not be immediately determined if he had an attorney.

There was no immediate connection between the arrest of the janitor and the cases at Miramonte, which is 15 miles away in an unincorporated county area of South Los Angeles.

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Associated Press writer Raquel Maria Dillon contributed to this report.