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Author Topic: LA Elem. Teacher Mark Berndt Fired & Chgd with Lewd Acts Against 23 Children  (Read 30723 times)
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« Reply #60 on: February 26, 2012, 09:54:46 AM »

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Commission-Revoked-87-California-Teachers-for-Alleged-Child-Crimes-140376823.html
Little-Known Commission Revokes California Teachers for Reported Alleged Child Crimes
Revocations Pre-date Miramonte Scandal
By Patrick Healy
February 25, 2012


 ::snipping2::
Authorities have seen a surge in complaints in recent weeks since a longtime teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, Mark Berndt, was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct.
Former substitute teacher Jorge Hernandez was investigated for suspected crimes at three schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. After a third case in 2007, he was compelled to leave.

However, this was not reported to the Credentialing Commission, and Hernandez found work with the Inglewood school district.

The commission is empowered to suspend or revoke the credentials of teachers once they are suspected of a crime or other serious misconduct, and removed from the classroom.

Whether notification was made within the required 30 days of change in employment status has come into question in two of the high profile cases coming to light in the glare of the Miramonte uproar.

While teaching third grade at Inglewood's Beulah Payne Elementary School in 2008, Hernandez allegedly molested an 8-year-old girl, according to Sanford Jossen, the attorney who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girl and her mother.

"How many times does one have to hear someone yell, 'fire,’'' Jossen said.

Hernandez was arrested in 2010 after he drove to another school, Gage Elementary in Huntington Park, and allegedly exposed himself to children outside.

During a post-arrest search of his home, authorities found videos they characterized as child pornography. Jossen's suit states that one of the videos depicts the molestation of the girl at Payne Elementary.

Hernandez jumped bail prior to a 2010 hearing, and is believed to have fled to Jalisco, Mexico, to escape prosecution.

In the Berndt case, after he was removed from his classroom at the beginning of 2011, a year elapsed before LAUSD reported this to the Credentialing Commission.

Supt. John Deasy acknowledged the error and said his district would renew efforts to comply with the reporting requirements.


The Commission revoked the credentials of 267 teachers during the 2010-11 school year, only one more than the previous year, and suspended 243 – an increase of 36.

The Credentialing Commission's awareness of cases relies on reports from outside agencies, including law enforcement and school districts.
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« Reply #61 on: February 28, 2012, 11:11:34 AM »

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/02/22/4788/l-unified-review-files-teacher-misconduct-over-las/
LA Unified to review files on teacher misconduct over last 3 years and report to state agency
By Tami Abdollah
February 22, 2012

L.A. Unified will go back and report (or re-report) every case of a teacher accused of misconduct over the last three years to the state credentialing commission as part of an internal investigation into its failure to provide a timely report on former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to children.

"I ordered my staff to re-file every single report over the last three academic years and of course the year that I'm in now, just as an abundance of caution, to make sure that no particular case slipped through the cracks and to be quite clear that every case was sent to the commission on teacher credentialing," Superintendent John Deasy told KPCC on air today during his regular monthly radio talk.
 ::snipping2::
Deasy said Friday he was launching an internal investigation to look into the untimely notifications or lack of notifications to the commission. "I know they're [the Human Resources Department is] combing through email and checking with the commission itself," said district spokesman Thomas Waldman.

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Times reported that a substitute teacher for the district was investigated by police thrice for sexual misconduct with students. According to the story, the district never reported the accusations to the credentialing commission and the teacher was hired to work as a substitute at another school.

Deasy told KPCC today that this case took place years ago, before Deasy became the district's superintendent, and that the reporting mechanisms at the time were not what they are today.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #62 on: February 29, 2012, 04:26:51 PM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/02/la-teachers-contracts-delay-abuse-investigations.html
L.A. teachers' contracts hinder abuse investigations
February 29, 2012

Efforts by the L.A. Unified School District to identify teachers suspected of misconduct has been complicated by a little-known clause in the teachers' contracts that limits how long allegations can remain in a teacher's file.

Under the contract, alleged misconduct that does not result in discipline is removed from personnel files after four years. The provision dates to the early 1990s when the L.A. Unified School District agreed to it in exchange for teachers taking a 10% pay cut.

The policy has limited L.A. Unified's ability to deal with misconduct allegations against teachers and weed out potential problem instructors. The most explosive allegations involved former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly photographing students blindfolded, gagged and being spoon-fed his semen.

Several earlier investigations and complaints about his conduct — none of which ever resulted in criminal charges or discipline — were not in his record.
The contract states that after four years, "pre-disciplinary" documents filed about teachers are either destroyed or placed in an "expired file" at the campus.

These can include an unproven allegation of serious misconduct, a warning or reprimand, a principal's private notes about a potential problem or a memo that resulted from a meeting with a teacher over an issue.
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« Reply #63 on: February 29, 2012, 04:29:11 PM »

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-lausd-teacher-contracts-misconduct,0,6263296.story
LAUSD Teacher Contracts Limit Investigations of Misconduct
February 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District's efforts to investigate teacher misconduct have been complicated by a little-known clause in teachers' contracts.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, there is a clause in LAUSD teacher contracts that limits how long allegations remain in a teacher's file.

Under the clause, alleged misconduct that does not result in discipline -- no matter how serious -- is removed from personnel files after four years.


Teachers cannot be subject to punishment based on an "expired" file.

The provision dates to the early 1990s, the Times reports. The district agreed to it in exchange for teacher taking a 10 percent pay cut.

Administrators can use an incident in an expired file to assess whether a teacher should receive harsher punishment for a later transgression.

But, the Times reports, much of the documentation has not survived.

The teachers' contract does not specify what should happen to expired files over time.

They are typically destroyed or kept at the campus, even when a teacher moves to another school.

The clause has made it difficult to investigate allegations against teachers and weed out potential problem employees.

There is concern that teachers who have plenty of prior allegations might be able to fly under the radar.

The most explosive recent case involves former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt.

He has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly photographing students blindfolded, gagged and being spoon-fed his semen.

Berndt worked at the school for more than 30 years.

There were several earlier investigations and complaints about his conduct, but none resulted in criminal charges and discipline, and they were not in his record.

Deasy says he plans to try to change the contract clause.
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« Reply #64 on: February 29, 2012, 04:31:21 PM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/tagblogsfindlawcom2012-blotter-idUS170000835020120229
Why Do Guilty People Plead Not Guilty?
By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. at FindLaw.com
February 29, 2012

Mark Berndt, an elementary school teacher in Miramonte, Calif., recently pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing 23 students in his classroom. But authorities have photos depicting the abuse. They have testimony from current and past students. It seems like a slam-dunk case.

So why did Berndt plead as he did? Why do guilty people plead not guilty?

In one word: strategy.

To start, defendants have a Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. They don't have to plead guilty -- even when they are. Instead, it is up to the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime.

When the prosecutor has little evidence, it makes sense to plead not guilty. The defendant may have a very high chance of being acquitted at trial. But what about when the prosecutor has a lot of evidence, such as with Mark Berndt?

There are still very good reasons why guilty people plead not guilty in these types of situations. For one, it may force the prosecutor to offer a deal. Trials are expensive, even when the evidence is strong. A prosecutor may therefore be inclined to offer a lesser sentence to avoid the expense.
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« Reply #65 on: March 03, 2012, 03:12:35 PM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/02/deasy-wants-change-in-teachers-contract-over-misconduct-records.html
Deasy wants teachers' contracts changed over misconduct records [Updated]
February 29, 2012

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy ordered his negotiating team Wednesday to press the teachers union to eliminate a provision of the contract that allows information about alleged but unproven teacher misconduct to be removed after four years.

Deasy said the clause has hampered district efforts to identify potential problem teachers through a top-to-bottom review of district records — both centrally and at schools.

The superintendent's announcement comes the day after The Times revealed the little-known contract provision.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #66 on: March 03, 2012, 03:14:20 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lausd-blindfold-20120302,0,5609684.story
L.A. Unified bans blindfolding during lessons
A new fourth-grade reading program recommends using blindfolds to help students learn about sensory details. But in light of the Miramonte Elementary case, district officials consider it prudent to eliminate the eye coverings.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
March 3, 2012

Who knew that blindfolding students was part of the curriculum in the Los Angeles Unified School District?

It was, until last week, when a senior district official nixed a lesson in a new fourth-grade reading program.

The blindfolding of students attracted notice after the January arrest of Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, who has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly photographing students blindfolded and being spoon-fed his semen.

In light of that case, blindfolding "may be perceived negatively," wrote Deputy Supt. of Instruction Jaime Aquino in a Feb. 23 memo to principals.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #67 on: March 05, 2012, 09:24:31 AM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/03/state-audit-looms-in-wake-of-miramonte-arrests.html
State audit looms in wake of Miramonte arrests
March 5, 2012

A state legislator plans to launch an audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District in response to the lewd conduct arrests of two Miramonte Elementary teachers and other recent sexual abuse allegations, The Times has learned.
 ::snipping2::
“After reading what was happening at Miramonte Elementary School and all the other incidents I felt it was important to evaluate LAUSD’s handling of claims of abuse against children,” said Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate), who chairs the Legislature’s audit committee. “All these shocking incidents highlight lapses in the school district, and I wonder how can this be happening.”

Lara wants an independent state team to review both the school district’s policies and how well they are being carried out to protect children. He also wants the audit to look at the role of other agencies, such as the Sheriff’s Department, in handling these cases.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #68 on: March 06, 2012, 12:07:38 PM »

http://**/news/ci_20107522/pasadena-attorney-calls-independent-investigation-student-complaints-after
Pasadena attorney calls for independent investigation of student complaints after LAUSD arrest
By Lauren Gold, Staff Writer
March 5, 2012

Pasadena civil rights attorney Brian Claypool said Monday he plans to use the Miramonte Elementary School child sex abuse case to push for legislation to establish independent investigations of complaints against teachers.

Claypool has filed eight claims against Los Angeles Unified School District and said he plans to file three more by the end of the week on behalf of students who were allegedly sexually abused by former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt.

In addition, South Pasadena civil rights attorney Luis Carrillo has filed 20 claims against LAUSD on behalf of children who were allegedly victim's of Berndt's abuse, as well as 13 mothers who allegedly experienced trauma from the incidents
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #69 on: March 06, 2012, 12:09:20 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-blindfold-20120306,0,6703148.story
Sexual abuse, and LAUSD's overreaction
L.A. school officials and parents are understandably wary after allegations of sexual abuse at Miramonte Elementary. But some new policies are just overreactions.
March 6, 2012
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« Reply #70 on: March 07, 2012, 07:45:57 PM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/03/audit-of-la-unified-sexual-misconduct-policies-authorized.html
Audit of L.A. Unified sexual-misconduct policies authorized
March 7, 2012

A state committee on Wednesday authorized a comprehensive audit of procedures to protect students from sexual abuse in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The move comes in the wake of the arrest of former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt and others for alleged sexual misconduct. L.A. Unified officials said they welcome the inquiry as compatible with their own ongoing efforts.
 ::snipping2::
The probe would likely look closely at six sample schools, possibly including two elementary schools, a high school and an independently managed charter school.

The audit is expected to begin in the next week or so and last close to eight months, at a cost of at least $300,000.
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« Reply #71 on: March 09, 2012, 09:17:11 PM »

http://laist.com/2012/03/09/lausd_files_110_teacher_misconduct.php
LAUSD Files 110 Teacher Misconduct Reports With State in About a Week—Half of What They Filed Last Year

For the past few weeks, the LAUSD has been furiously going through its personnel files trying to find any reports of teacher misconduct that they might have missed in the past.

What's it doing with those files? It's sending them onto the state commission on teacher credentialing. Earlier the district admitted that it broke the law by not reporting the investigation into Mark Berndt to the state commission.

So far the district dug up 110 complaints about teachers and most of them are new, according to KPCC:

    From Feb. 22 through March 2, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing received 110 reports from LAUSD, more than half of the 210 opened cases from district reports in fiscal year 2010-11, said Nanette Rufo, general counsel and director of the Division of Professional Practices reported to the commission Thursday. Of the 110 cases, 83 were not previously reported by LAUSD, Rufo said.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #72 on: March 10, 2012, 11:25:09 AM »

http://laist.com/2012/03/09/lausd_files_110_teacher_misconduct.php
LAUSD Files 110 Teacher Misconduct Reports With State in About a Week—Half of What They Filed Last Year

For the past few weeks, the LAUSD has been furiously going through its personnel files trying to find any reports of teacher misconduct that they might have missed in the past.

What's it doing with those files? It's sending them onto the state commission on teacher credentialing. Earlier the district admitted that it broke the law by not reporting the investigation into Mark Berndt to the state commission.

So far the district dug up 110 complaints about teachers and most of them are new, according to KPCC:

    From Feb. 22 through March 2, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing received 110 reports from LAUSD, more than half of the 210 opened cases from district reports in fiscal year 2010-11, said Nanette Rufo, general counsel and director of the Division of Professional Practices reported to the commission Thursday. Of the 110 cases, 83 were not previously reported by LAUSD, Rufo said.
 ::snipping2::
good grief!
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« Reply #73 on: March 12, 2012, 07:18:28 PM »

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-lausd-new-resolutions,0,5423849.story
LAUSD Introduces Proposals to Protect Children from Abuse
March 12, 2012

OS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Two new proposals aimed at better protecting children from sexual predators have been introduced by the L.A. Unified School District board on Monday morning.

The proposals come in the wake of a string of sex abuse allegations involving LAUSD employees.

The first resolution, called "Protecting Children in the Classroom," will make it easier to fire certified employees, such as teachers, for unprofessional, immoral or criminal conduct.


Teachers who have been fired will no longer be paid while they fight the allegations.

If a teacher fights the allegations and wins, then he or she would be allowed to collect back-pay.

Additionally, any employee convicted of sexual abuse of a minor would not receive a pension, even if he or she retires first.
 ::snipping2::
A second resolution, called "Improving Transparency," aims to create ways to notify parents about misconduct allegations.

In the Miramonte case and several others, parents were upset because they did not know about the allegations sooner.

The proposals will be considered by the LAUSD board at their meeting on Tuesday.

United Teachers Los Angeles issued the following statement Monday:

UTLA supports measures to increase student safety, including vigorous and fair investigations of all allegations of misconduct.

While the school board considers changes to policy, it is important to remember that we are in the current situation because LAUSD has not met basic standards of vigilance on a daily basis. LAUSD’s failure of supervision led to a situation at Miramonte Elementary where a single principal supervised staff and more than 1,400 students, with no assistant principal.
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« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2012, 07:20:33 PM »

http://laindependent.com/lausd-board-members-call-for-changes-in-state-education-code-p199-1.htm
LAUSD board members call for changes in state Education Code
March 8, 2012



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« Reply #75 on: March 20, 2012, 01:18:15 PM »

http://www.dailytitan.com/2012/03/making-changes-to-protect-children/
Making changes to protect children
By Joey Becerra
March 19, 2012

 ::snipping2::
Among the proposed legislation are several revisions that target union contract provisions that make it harder to investigate criminal behavior.

The first change prohibits bargaining agreements that restrict the maintenance of records or use of prior evidence from past accusations in new investigations. The second calls for the removal of a policy referred to as the “four-year rule,” in which union contracts stipulate that four-year-old charges of wrongdoing must be removed from a teacher’s record.

The Los Angeles Unified School District Office of the General Counsel also released a list of suggested reforms for the education code.

Among those changes, laws benefiting teachers rights were also targeted.

At the top of the list of 10 suggested reforms was a change to Education Code Section 44929.21, which would give districts the option of extending the probationary period of granting tenure to teachers from two years to three or even four years.

A major trend among reform suggestions by both Republican lawmakers and the LAUSD was a change in dismissal procedures of teachers who have been accused of and charged with criminal activities.

In a letter sent Feb. 29 by Los Angeles County Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Gov. Jerry Brown, Villaraigosa urged Brown to reevaluate the state’s dismissal policies. Villaraigosa wrote, “Moving to dismiss a teacher triggers what can be a twelve-step process, often lasting several years. This can be mitigated by giving school boards more authority to dismiss teachers when the situation warrants this.”

Villaraigosa also noted that, on average, dismissal proceedings can cost a school district $300,000.

In the proposed reforms by Conway and Huff, the politicians called for the elimination of notice requirements that delay the dismissal process of teachers accused of misconduct.
 ::snipping2::
Conway and Huff also suggested in their proposed reforms that, following an administrative hearing, districts should be able to dismiss teachers for disciplinary reasons with no pay.

Barbara Griswold, 26, a history major, said she doesn’t agree with the last clause.

“Essentially, you are innocent until proven guilty,” said Griswold.

According to the press release by Conway and Huff, teachers who have prevailed in the panel hearing or in court will be eligible for the back pay they lost as a result of being dismissed for disciplinary reasons.
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« Reply #76 on: March 20, 2012, 01:21:06 PM »

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-lausd-new-resolutions,0,5423849.story
L.A. School Board Considers Faster Firings for Misconduct
March 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The L.A. Unified board will vote on two proposals Tuesday that would make it easier to fire employees accused of misconduct and to inform parents about them.

The proposals were introduced in the wake of a string of sex abuse allegations involving LAUSD employees.

 ::snipping2::
One of the new proposals would require changing state law to prohibit convicted molesters from receiving pension or retirement benefits, even if the employee resigns prior to formal dismissal.

It also seeks to expedite the process of firing teachers for cause by giving the Board of Education final authority over dismissing teachers.

Currently, an independent hearing panel comprised of two teachers and an administrative judge holds that power.

The changes to the law would have to be approved by the state Legislature or voters.

The second board resolution relates to notifying parents about alleged misconduct.

It tasks LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy with setting unified rules on what to tell parents when a teacher is arrested, under investigation or simply removed from a classroom due to an allegation.

It also would make some of Deasy's recent initiatives part of approved board policy.

They include efforts to create a centralized, confidential database where allegations of sexual or physical abuse and harassment against teachers could be filed.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #77 on: March 22, 2012, 03:23:42 PM »

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/03/lausd_stephanie_abrams_social_media.php
LAUSD Hires Ex-Journo Stephanie Abrams as New Social-Media Director in Wake of Sex Scandal
By Simone Wilson
March 20, 2012

Video at Link

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« Reply #78 on: March 23, 2012, 11:05:03 PM »

http://**/california/ci_20243703/state-agency-probing-130-lausd-educators-misconduct-allegations
State agency probing 130 LAUSD educators on misconduct allegations
By Barbara Jones Staff Writer
March 23, 2012

Based on information unearthed in Los Angeles Unified's personnel files, the state teacher credentialing agency has opened investigations into 130 educators and the district has reported some past allegations of misconduct to law enforcement, officials said Friday.

The California Teacher Credentialing Commission has been flooded with misconduct reports in the month since LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy ordered principals at nearly 900 campuses to scour personnel files for evidence of possible wrongdoing.

Deasy said Friday the review had turned up "some cases that we believe warrant police investigation," and that "some" teachers had been removed from classrooms while authorities look into the allegations. He declined to reveal how many employees were being investigated or any details about the allegations.

Deasy ordered the review of the files as he dealt with the fallout from the arrest of Mark Berndt of Torrance, who taught at Miramonte Elementary.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #79 on: March 23, 2012, 11:06:44 PM »

http://www.the-signal.com/section/36/article/62235/   
Smyth, Knight introduce teacher misconduct reform bills
March 23, 2012

In an effort to address allegations of teacher misconduct in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblyman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, have introduced legislation that will enact teacher misconduct reform if passed.

The first measure introduced into the Assembly by Knight and Smyth - AB 2028 - addresses administrative changes to empower local school districts to respond more effectively to teacher misconduct cases, according to a prepared statement from Assembly Republican Caucus leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare.

If passed, the bill would prohibit future collective bargaining agreements from requiring the removal of complaints, reprimands or investigations into a teacher's conduct from his or her file after a specified time.

Smyth has also introduced AB 1681, which would strip teachers involved in misconduct cases of their pensions.
 ::snipping2::
The measures were written in response to recent alleged incidents of sexual misconduct at LAUSD, including the investigation into LAUSD teacher Mark Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct, according to Conway's statement.

 
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