The LA school district violated state law by waiting nearly a year to inform the state agency overseeing teacher credentials that it had moved to dismiss a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of lewd acts with children in his classroom, according to KPCC.
LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman told KPCC that officials felt that if they informed the Commission on Teacher Credentialing that they were in the process of firing teacher Mark Berndt, they would have compromised a police investigation into sex abuse allegations against the teacher.
“We did not, during the course of the investigation inform the CTC about Berndt," Waldman told KPCC. "We contacted the Sheriff's Department over the course of the year on 15 occasions to check on the status of the investigation and our ability to move forward.
“We were told they were conducting an investigation, that we were to refrain from taking any actions that could jeopardize the completion of the investigation, so that was interpreted on our end as not informing the commission regarding Mr. Berndt's status."
A letter from the state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing sent on Wednesday to Deasy says the failure to file the report poses a potential safety risk to students and the committee may "investigate any superintendent who holds a credential who fails to file reports."
The commission suspended Berndt's credential on Jan. 31, the same day he was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct on children.
But according to the state code of regulations and the education code, the LAUSD should have informed the credentialing commission of Berndt's February 2011 suspension without pay by mid-March of 2011.
Berndt was allowed to resign on June 30 after a $40,000 settlement with the district.
In addition to Berndt, a second teacher at Miramonte was arrested.
Martin Bernard Springer, 49, faces three counts of lewd acts on a child over a three-month period in 2009, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
He was released from custody after posting bail.