Troubled School Prepares To Reopen
POSTED: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 1:11pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 7:43am
Entirely new staff will greet students at LA elementary school where sexual abuse occurred.
Final preparations were underway late Wednesday night for the reopening of Miramonte Elementary School, in the wake of a highly publicized abuse scandal.
But many Miramonte parents are not happy.
The decision to remove all staff members at Miramonte was met with mixed emotions this week as the replacement employees prepared to reopen the school after a two-day shutdown.
Students are expected to return to school Thursday when they will be greeted by new teachers and staff members, who attended orientation sessions and met with outgoing staff members Wednesday.
Contisia Davis, a special education assistant, found out on Wednesday she was being reassigned to Miramonte, effective immediately.
"It's not always that you will be positioned at one school. You can be asked to move around. If there's help needed, you have to be ready," Davis said.
Parents will be allowed in their child's classroom for 30 minutes for the first week of the school's reopening, said Susan Cox with LAUSD.
The removal of the entire staff was ordered by Superintendent John Deasy after the arrest of two teachers accused of molesting students.
A third arrest was anticipated in the growing Miramonte Elementary School scandal, but the possibility has now been eliminated by police.
The new staff members will be screened for previous complaints, according to the district.
More than 200 parents signed and delivered a petition to the superintendent on Wednesday, asking him to reconsider his decision to replace the Miramonte staff. The petition also called for background checks and psychological tests for new teachers.
"We should be doing this periodically every few years, make sure the teacher is still well enough to teach our kids, and make sure our kids are still safe enough with that teacher," parent Leo Delgado said.
As for the removed staff members, they will be transferred to Augustus Hawkins High School, a facility under construction in South Los Angeles.
Details regarding what roles the former Miramonte staffers will be given at Hawkins were not immediately available. The Hawkins school is expected to open in the fall.
The outgoing staff members will be counseled and interviewed as part of the child abuse investigation.
An independent commission led by retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Moreno will conduct the district's investigation.
Former students and staff members at Miramonte also will be interviewed.
The school is under scrutiny after the arrests of former teachers Mark Berndt and Martin Bernard Springer.
Berndt was arrested January 30 and charged with lewd acts involving 23 children.
A film processor provided authorities with 40 images that showed the former teacher with children, some of whom had blindfolds over their eyes and spoons of semen held to their mouths.
Springer was arrested later that week.
He was charged Tuesday with three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child.