- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES — The entire staff at a Los Angeles elementary school is being removed while authorities investigate horrific allegations of sexual abuse by two of the school’s teachers, one of whom is accused of blindfolding children, taping their mouths and photographing them in a classroom.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Monday night that more than 120 staff members at Miramonte Elementary School - everyone from the principal and teachers to the cafeteria workers - were being replaced because a full investigation will be disruptive and staffers will require support to get through the scandal.

“We intend to interview every adult, every adult who works at that school, whether they are a teacher or administrator, or whether they are an after-school playground worker or a custodian or a secretary,” Mr. Deasy said to parents who packed a high school gymnasium.

An entire staff has been selected to come into Miramonte’s classrooms to take over teaching for the time being, and there will be a psychiatric social worker in every classroom to help students and staff cope with any issues.

The teachers and support staff will remain officially attached to Miramonte even though they are indefinitely being transferred, district spokeswoman Monica Carazo said Tuesday.

Mr. Deasy “will decide if and when to return them back to the Miramonte school. So nothing is definite at this time,” she said.

The employees, who include nearly 90 teachers, will remain out of the school at least until August, when Miramonte changes from a year-round system to a regular summer-vacation schedule. When classes resume, there will be fewer teachers and fewer students because some will be transferred to new schools that are opening.

Mr. Deasy announced that the investigation will be handled by an independent commission led by retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Moreno.

School officials canceled classes on Tuesday and Wednesday as a cooling-off and transition period, Mr. Waldman said.

Maria Jimenez, 51, a parent, said the parents are divided over the decision to remove the school’s 88 teachers and 40 other staff members.

“Some are in favor. Others are against it because they did this without advising us or consulting us,” she said.

The decision follows the arrest of two longtime Miramonte teachers: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer.

Mr. Berndt, 61, was charged last week with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. The acts cited by authorities include blindfolding children and feeding them his semen in his classroom, in what children were allegedly told was a tasting game.

Mr. Springer, 49, was arrested Friday on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He was being held on $2 million bail.