Police are pulling students out of class at Miramonte Elementary School to interview them as part of the continuing investigation into the arrests of two former teachers charged with committing lewd acts against children under 14 years old, officials said.
Parents have been notified that their children are being interviewed, but are not allowed to sit in on the discussions, according to Sgt. Pete Hahn of the Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit.
Students tend to be more open when their parents are not present, Hahn told NBC 4.
Students at the elementary school have had to adjust to a completely revised staff -- from teachers to cafeteria workers. But confidence appears to have been bolsted at the school, where attendance is steadily rising.
Nearly 92 percent of the school’s approximately 1,400 students were in class Monday.
On Friday, the day after the school’s entire staff was replaced, there was 87 percent attendance, a nearly 20 percent spike from the day before.
Authorities said they have spoken with a number of students but would not comment on how many students have been or will be interviewed, citing the on-going investigation.
Students being interviewed include alleged victims, witnesses and students in the hundreds of photos that first sparked the investigation, according to sheriff’s officials.
The pictures, discovered by film processors at a Redondo Beach CVS, show children blindfolded, with cockroaches on their faces and eating cookies with a shiny white substance. That substance has now been described as the bodily fluids of former third grade teacher Mark Berndt, 61.
Berndt is being held on $23 million bail – $1 million for each other counts against him – and faces multiple years to life in prison.
A second Miramonte teacher, Martin Springer, 49, was charged with three felony counts of lewd acts on a children under the age of 14.
Springer was released on $300,000 bond on Feb. 10, one week after he was booked with LA County Sheriff’s Department, according to the department’s inmate information website.
Springer was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device, stay 100 yards aways from all potential witnesses and keep 250 feet away from any school, park or playground, according to the criminal complaint.