Miramonte scandal affecting teachers

imageParents congregate outside Miramonte Elementary school last week after meeting with school officials.

The Los Angeles School District’s board of education voted unanimously today to fire a second teacher at Miramonte Elementary in South LA. Martin Springer was arrested Friday and charged with three counts of committing a lewd act on a child.

Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt was arrested earlier last week.

The two arrests prompted school Superintendent John Deasy to replace Miramonte’s entire staff: 128 people.

The decisive action is meant to appease outraged parents and assist sheriff’s deputies with the investigation.

But the issue of broken trust may be taking an emotional toll on overwhelmed teachers.

Deasy has said every adult who works at Miramonte will be interviewed. During a press conference, he emphasized that the teacher’s relocation doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong.

Allan Green, Professor of Clinical Education at USC’s Rossier School of Education says that message may not be clear for the relocated teachers.

“I have to imagine that the entire community at Miramonte is in a state of disequilibrium. The allegations and the events that have taken place over the last week or so have really shocked the school… to its core.”

imageMiramonte Elementary principal Martín Sandoval talked to reporters the day after the arrest of teacher Mark Berndt.

LAUSD officials have said they will provide counselors for the Miramonte teachers while the investigation continues.

Professor Green says the emotional impact on the teachers shouldn’t be dismissed. Many of them have developed relationships and attachments to their students.

“Their reaction is going to be like any human being. There’s going to be anger, frustration, maybe some guilt in the form of did I do enough to protect everyone, or should I have noticed something.”

The LA teacher’s union (UTLA) would not give interviews on the relocation of the educators, but in a statement said they support “thorough, vigorous and fair investigation of all allegations.”

The school is shut down for two days to and will reopen on Thursday morning with replacement teachers.

As part of the overhaul at Miramonte, classes will now be taught by a two person team – an instructor and a counselor, to help students focus on learning.

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