LAUSD Offers Settlement in Miramonte School Child Sex Abuse Cases

An attorney for families of students described the latest offer as an "insult" and "insufficient"

A settlement offered Wednesday from the Los Angeles Unified School District was characterized as "an insult" and "absurd" by attorneys for families of Miramonte Elementary School students who filed lawsuits over the school sex abuse case.

Timeline: Miramonte School Abuse Case

The offer, involving the families of 40 students at the school, stems from a series of lawsuits involving the school district in the wake of sexual misconduct investigations involving former teacher Mark Berndt.

The settlement equals about $425,000 per student, according to the district.

"We have analyzed these and determined that, in our view, these properly take care of the students as we were committed to doing, which is to provide for their health and welfare and education for the remainder of their lives," said David Holmquist, legal counsel for the LAUSD.

Families of 61 students accepted a similar offer two months ago, according to the district. Those offers are in the process of being approved by a judge, Holmquist said.

An attorney for families of 23 of the children described the latest offer as an "insult."

"This offer is insufficient because the lifetime mental health care for these kids is about $576,000," said attorney Luis Carillo. "This is an insult that would pay the other kids $470,000 and now the want to lowball our kids."

"Offensive, completely absurd," said attorney Brian Claypool, adding that the offer motivates the families to "fight this all the way through trial."

Attorneys have 30 days to respond -- or not respond -- to the offer.

The scandal broke in January 2012 when Berndt was arrested at his Torrance home. He was charged in connection with photographs that allegedly depict Berndt committing lewd acts on students.

Police say they seized hundreds of photos at Berndt's residence and a Redondo Beach CVS. Film processors are required by law to report suspected child abuse found in pictures.

Berndt, 62, remains in jailed on $23 million bail. A court date is scheduled for Thursday, according to Los Angeles County inmate records.

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