News Statement by Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy and Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic Regarding Plea Bargain with Miramonte Teacher Accused of Misconduct

Los Angeles — (Nov. 15, 2013) A plea deal was presented to the court today by attorneys for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, who are prosecuting former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt. The plea deal, which Mr. Berndt agreed to, was accepted by the court.

The following is a statement from Dr. John Deasy, superintendent for the school district, regarding the decision:

“While the school district was not a party to the prosecutor’s plea deal with Mr. Berndt, we are relieved that the students and families will be able to put this part of the proceedings behind them. As a community of educators, we remain tireless advocates for student safety. We will continue to implement reforms and push for statewide changes to protect students, including calling for a strong teacher dismissal bill that will enable us to remove teachers who violate the public’s trust and hurt students.

“We hope that we can reach a resolution with the students and families who have yet to settle in an expeditious and respectful manner that will allow them to continue to heal and move forward. I speak for myself, Board President—Dr. Richard Vladovic—and the entire board when I pledge the school district’s continued support to the students and families impacted by the incidents at Miramonte.”

The following is a statement from Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic, regarding the decision:

“We have a commitment to supporting students and families now and into the future. We are grateful for the changes that have been implemented to protect students and families, and we look forward to continue helping the healing process of this school and the entire district.”

Creating a safe learning environment is a top priority for the school district. The school district has adopted and amended numerous policies and programs over the past two years to enhance student safety. Among the school district’s efforts are:

Adopting a 72-hour parental notification policy for allegations of employee misconduct. Parents must now be notified in that window unless the school district is specifically directed otherwise by law enforcement.

Updating internal reporting structure for notification of alleged misconduct to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). This enhanced review process has allowed the school district to improve the flow of information and report to the CTC more quickly.
Implementing more specialized resources at the local level. Through the reorganization of the school district into Educational Service Centers, there are now more dedicated specialists available to the school site to advise on and investigate misconduct issues.
Developing a specialized team of investigators to conduct administrative reviews of misconduct allegations.

Participating in a review by the California State Auditor into the handling and reporting of misconduct allegations. This review has included regular updates and the ongoing exchange of information.

Offering additional trainings for teachers and parents on how to spot and report potential misconduct.

Leading statewide legislative reform efforts that would streamline the dismissal process for teachers suspected of misconduct.

Superintendent Deasy also said, “To all parents and guardians, I want to stress how important student safety is in LAUSD. We continue to press for new state teacher dismissal laws that better protect children.”

Contact: Sean Rossall, (310) 210-7586