George McKenna wins LAUSD School Board, LAPD reacts to South LA death + USC attackers plead not guilty

George McKenna |

LA School Report: George McKenna won the District 1 seat of the LAUSD School Board covering a swath of South L.A., beating opponent Alex Johnson with 53 percent of the vote. Just 8 percent of eligible voters turned out for the runoff election.

LA Times: The LAPD provides details on the controversial killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South L.A.

Reuters: Four teenagers pleaded not guilty to the fatal attack of USC engineering graduate student Xinran Ji.

LA Weekly: South LA’s KIPP Empower Academy Charter School in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood is named as one of the “awesome LAUSD schools in affordable neighborhoods” in a piece by our colleague Ani Ucar from Annenberg Radio News.

NBC: School is back in session, and things are starting to get back to normal at Miramonte Elementary, the South L.A. campus plagued since 2012 by reports of child abuse.

KCET Artbound: The old church at 49th and Compton is actually a modernist gem by architect Rudolph Schindler.

CityWatch: Is predatory loaning happening in South L.A.?

Judge denies bail reduction for ex Miramonte teacher

imageMark Berndt, 61, arrested on suspicion of committing lewd acts upon a child, faces 23 criminal counts involving children aged 7 to 10 years old.

A judge today refused to reduce the $23 million bail for Mark Berndt, the former Miramonte Elementary School teacher, accused of abusing nearly two dozen children.

The 61 year-old Berndt pleaded not guilty last month to 23 counts of committing a lewd act on a child.

Berndt’s public defender, Victor Acevedo, argued his client was not a flight risk, but according to a KNX radio report, the judge declined to lower the bail because some of his victims have been experiencing nightmares.

Berndt is due to appear in court on May 1st for a preliminary hearing.

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.