Ca. School Closing For 2 Days Over Teacher Arrests

Published February 6, 2012 11:00AM (EST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The superintendent of schools is meeting with worried parents and classes are canceled for two days at a Southern California elementary school where two teachers are suspected of lewd acts with young students, officials said.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy will hold the meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at a high school near Miramonte Elementary, the school that has brought national attention to the country's second-largest school district, with allegations of teachers engaging in sexual misconduct with students as young as six.

School officials have canceled classes at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday, district spokeswoman Monica Carazo said. The closure is related to the investigation and aftermath of the arrested teachers, but Carazo was not certain what would be happening on campus, or whether faculty and staff would be there.

Last week teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who worked at the school for 32 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010.

The acts cited include blindfolding children and feeding them his own semen in his classroom in what children were allegedly told was a "tasting game."

Berndt remains jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.

Four days later another teacher, Martin Springer, 49, was arrested on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He was being held on $2 million bail.

Investigators said they know of no connection between the cases, Berndt and Springer knew each other and took their classes on at least two joint field trips in the last decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Classes were scheduled to be in session Monday, but some parents told television stations they planned to keep their children home. Several parents pulled their children out of school on Friday when Springer's arrest was announced.

Some parents were also planning to protest outside the school Monday.

Parent Saul Ortiz told KTTV-TV he would out picketing the school.

"I want that guy dealt with," Ortiz said of Berndt. "The thought sickens you, it just sickens you inside."

The timing of the protest and the number of parents who planned to appear was not clear.

By Salon Staff

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