Complete Coverage of the ongoing investigation of a South LA elementary school

LAUSD Superintendent Deasy Meets With Miramonte School Parents

Classes will not be in session Tuesday and Wednesday after two teachers were arrested

By Jonathan Lloyd, Annette Arreola and Lolita Lopez
|  Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012  |  Updated 12:40 PM PDT
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Angry parents marched through the streets of South LA on Monday before meeting with the LAUSD superintendent to discuss the sex abuse allegations against two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School.

Angie Crouch, Sean Browning

Angry parents marched through the streets of South LA on Monday before meeting with the LAUSD superintendent to discuss the sex abuse allegations against two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School.

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Photos and Videos

Second Teacher Arrested for Lewd Acts

A second teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Florence has been arrested for lewd acts. Authorities said two girls came forward claiming they were fondled inside of a classroom.

Teacher Had Been Accused Before

Mark Berndt, the LAUSD teacher accused of lewd conduct, had been investigated in the early 1990s. A former student says her classmates tried to tell the principal in 1990.
More Photos and Videos

Frustrated parents gathered outside Miramonte Elementary School Monday to express their concerns about the cases of two former teacher accused of molesting students at the South LA school.

"We the parents demand our children be protected from lewd teacher acts," read one of the banners at the protest.

UPDATE: Miramonte Elementary To Be Restaffed

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the school Monday during the day-long protest. The number of protesters swelled throughout the day, from about 30 in the morning to more than 100 by mid-afternoon.

Parents from across Los Angeles -- hailing from Fullerton, Irvine and Santa Monica -- demonstrated in solidarity with Miramonte parents, who questioned how LAUSD handled the abuse allegations.

"We don't feel our kids are safe at school anymore," one parent told NBC 4 News.

The protest came hours before the leader of the Los Angeles Unified School District was scheduled to meet with worried parents about the allegations. Superintendent John Deasy has said he is "sickened and appalled" by the allegations involving former teachers Mark Berndt and Martin Bernard Springer.

Related: Decades-Old Technology Led to Arrest

The two men were arrested last week -- Berndt on Monday, Springer on Friday. The case led to outrage in the Miramonte community.

"We just want honesty," a parent told NBC4 Monday morning outside the school. "We just want information so we can protect our kids."

As parents gathered outside the school on East 64th Street between Hooper and Compton avenues, LAUSD officials attended a school board meeting at which paperwork regarding the termination of Springer's contract was presented.

Berndt (pictured, right), who worked at Miramonte Elementary for more than 30 years, is jailed on $23 million bond. He is accused of felony molestation involving 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010.

The 61-year-old was arrested after a film processor at a Redondo Beach CVS notified authorities of more than 40 photographs, developed from film that Berndt dropped off at the store, that depicted children with blindfolds over their eyes and spoons of semen held to their mouths.

The photos were taken in a Miramonte Elementary School classroom.

Last week, Deasy sent a letter to LAUSD employees indicating that Berndt was "immediately removed" from the school on the same day he was notified of the LA County Sheriff's Department investigation involving the teacher. The board officially approved his termination Feb. 15, 2011, but Berndt resigned before his termination was finalized, according to the letter.

Springer, a 49-year-old Alhambra resident, was arrested and booked Friday on suspicion of lewd acts on a child. He is accused of fondling two girls in his classroom. The case against Springer will be presented to the District Attorney for consideration.

The LAUSD school board will meet Tuesday to decide Springer's fate.

LAUSD school board president Monica Garcia said she would be supportive of Superintendent Deasy's decision to terminate Springer's stay at Miramonte.

Classes at Miramonte Elementary School will be canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monday's meeting with the superintendent was held at South Region High School, 6100 South Central Avenue. During the meeting, Deasy announced that the school would be completely restaffed during the scheduled two-day closure, according to attendees.

News media have been barred from the meeting, a move that some parents said will keep them from attending, as well.

If the news media is not allowed in the meeting, "you won't be represented," said grandparent Solomon Brunson, who encouraged parents to boycott the closed meeting.

An NBC 4 News truck was threatened with eviction from the parking lot outside of the high school, but was permitted to stay after agreeing to park in a designated area, according to NBC 4's Angie Crouch.

The crowd, hundreds strong, chanted, "Let the media in!"

But despite claims to not attend a closed meeting, most of the protesters went in to meet with LAUSD officials.

The school district has set up a hotline (866-247-5877) for information about the abuse allegations. People can also email specialvictims@lasd.org.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: Twitter: @NBCLA // Facebook: NBCLA

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