The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education approved $4.5 million in additional settlement money for victims of child sex abuse at Miramonte Elementary School.
The allegations stem from years of abuse that came to light in January 2012 when former teacher Mark Berndt was arrested. He has since plead no contest to multiple counts of abuse and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
The LAUSD says the board met in closed session Tuesday to approve the agreement with attorneys for 58 current and former students of the school, adding $4.5 million to a 2013 settlement that had totaled $30 million. The focus of those claims, according to the district, related to the hiring and supervision of Berdnt.
The district says the settlement resolves two government code claims presented by the students' lawyers in February 2015. In that claim, attorneys said they felt cheated by the way the settlement was handled by the district, with a caveat in the settlement that the LAUSD would not settle with any other claimants for any higher amount than that initial $30 million.
In November 2014, however, the LAUSD ultimately settled with other Miramonte claimants for a total of $139 million - the largest known payout by any school district in the country for child abuse claims.
In a statement to NBC4, LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist insists the well-being of students is high priority, saying "We are pleased to have reached a resolution of the government claims in a manner that is sensitive to the welfare of the students and resolves their claims responsibly. We also commend the lawyers for the claimants for their professionalism in protecting the interests of their clients."
The district says both sides have agreed that the settlement is intended to be the last word on what were competing interpretations of the amount the students were to be paid under the 2013 agreement.
There has been no comment from attorneys for the students.