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.
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.