LA school replaces entire staff after sex abuse scandal


Many parents say their children will not go back to school until their teachers come back. They worry that new teachers will only make an already tough situation, that much harder for the kids.

When the doors opened at Miramonte Elementary, many students and their parents remained on the lawn demanding their original teachers be reinstated.

The district reassigned the entire staff after two teachers were arrested and charged with abusing their students. Police say they've recovered around 600 photos, allegedly taken by 3rd grade teacher Mark Berndt, of students between the ages of 6 to 10. Some of the photos showed children with their mouths taped, and some blindfolded.

2nd grade teacher Martin Springer was charged with fondling a 7-year-old student.

Parents want to know how the abuse, especially Berndt's, went undetected for so long.

"He would go to the home often. He would get to know the parents and become their friends," said victim's attorney Greg Ownen.

An attorney for nine of his alleged victims says Berndt attended birthday parties, wrote them letters, and made them cd's.

"Often times he would play these songs while he was victimizing them," said Owen.

While district officials say teachers whose records have been cleared will return, the teacher's union blasted their actions.

"The teachers, and the parents, and the students of this community feel betrayed," said UTLA teacher's union president Warren Fletch.

Many students are concerned some beloved teachers will be innocent casualties of this controversy.

"I know he wouldn't do anything to harm us, which is why I'm against this whole situation and I'm very sad to let my teacher go," said 6th grader Xochil Ramirez.

Police have recovered more photos from Berndt that feature an additional 25 students. Investigators are working to identify them.

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.