Saturday, September 22, 2012


-- Howard Blume, LA Times/LA Now |

September 21, 2012 |  7:00 am  ::  A former Miramonte Elementary School student, who is among a group of children suing over alleged teacher sexual misconduct, has transferred from one middle school to another after she was allegedly beaten by other students. The incident apparently was unrelated to what happened at Miramonte.

An attorney representing the family alleges that the principal and staff at Drew Middle School in Florence-Firestone were slow to respond and hostile on one occasion after the student’s mother reported, on the first day of school, that her daughter had received a text-message threat. A week later, the girl was beaten by three girls, an episode followed by a threatening Facebook posting, said attorney Luis A. Carrillo.

The girl is among 24 the attorney represents in connection with the arrest of former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt on 23 counts of lewd conduct. Additional alleged victims are represented by other attorneys. Berndt has pleaded not guilty. Some parents allege that the district failed to respond properly to concerns raised by parents long before Berndt’s arrest.

A district official said a transfer was in process but that he had no information on whether the allegations were proved or whether any student was disciplined. Carrillo said he learned of the transfer approval Thursday.

If a parent believes a child to be unsafe or if a student feels threatened, a transfer can be granted on that basis, said Greg McNair, an attorney for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He added that alleged victims are not automatically transferred following disputes with other students because that could be akin to punishing the victim. He also said that it can be difficult for the district to verify and evaluate such things as text-message threats.

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