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Los Angeles school system will notify parents within 72 hours of a teacher's removal

Policy applies to teachers removed for alleged sexual misconduct against students

The board adopts the policy in the wake of several teacher sexual misconduct cases

Los Angeles CNN —  

The Los Angeles public school system will notify parents within 72 hours when a teacher at their child’s school has been removed from the classroom on allegations of sexual misconduct against students, officials said Friday.

The new policy comes in the wake of alleged sexual misconduct by teachers against pupils at Miramonte Elementary and other schools. Miramonte parents complained that they weren’t notified for months about former teacher Mark Berndt, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct upon students. Parents learned of the alleged crimes through the media.

The only exception to the policy, adopted Thursday, would occur if the Los Angeles Unified School District were told by police to not release the information within the 72-hour period.

“The spate of cases involving sexual misconduct in recent months has prompted a re-evaluation of our reporting procedures,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “Working closely with local law enforcement, we believe we have come up with a plan that best serves the needs of parents and teachers, while not hindering possible criminal investigations.”

The nation’s second-largest school system is developing a notification policy for other groups of employees, such as teacher’s aides, janitors and volunteers, officials said.

Berndt, 61, pleaded not guilty in February to allegations that he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held to their mouths and 3-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces.

Deasy said Berndt was removed from his teaching job in January 2011 after school officials learned of the police investigation.

A teacher for 30 years, Berndt initially challenged the school district’s decision to dismiss him. But he eventually dropped his appeal and resigned last spring.

His arrest in January precipitated a broader fallout over the prospect of more victims, and safeguards for students and parent notification.

Days after Berndt was taken into custody, another Miramonte Elementary teacher – Martin Springer, 49 – was arrested and charged with three felony counts of lewd acts with a girl under age 14. He has pleaded not guilty.