Miramonte Teaching Staff Not Fired Over Sex-Abuse Scandal, Despite Reports

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Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM
click to enlarge John Deasy.
  • John Deasy.

Sunday and Monday headlines declared that the entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A. has been fired following the sex-abuse scandal there earlier this year.

Why? To quell a "culture of silence," the reports quoted L.A. Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy as saying.

He did say that. But it wasn't about firing the entire staff. Those folks are still employed by the district, in fact:

The staff was removed from campus following allegations that teacher Mark Berndt did horrific things to his students. But the employees were placed elsewhere in the district. They will not be allowed to return to Miramonte, apparently, but they still have their jobs.

click to enlarge Berndt. - KPCC
  • KPCC
  • Berndt.

Those reports misinterpreted an Associated Press article that appeared Saturday in various outlets. It was about Deasy's tougher style when it came to dealing with teacher discipline and the powerful L.A. educators' union, United Teachers Los Angeles.

The AP story led off like this:

Faced with a shocking case of a teacher accused of playing classroom sex games with children for years, Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy delivered another jolt: He removed the school's entire staff -- from custodians to the principal -- to smash what he called a "culture of silence."

"It was a quick, responsible, responsive action to a heinous situation," he said. "We're not going to spend a long time debating student safety."

The key word here, and the subject of the misinterpretations, is "removed." It's different than "fired."

Sunday's U.K. Daily Mail spun the same story with this erroneous headline:

Los Angeles school fires ENTIRE staff after teachers 'sexually abused students and fed them semen.'


They weren't the only ones. Fox News:

LA superintendent fires entire school's staff over classroom sex allegations.


LAUSD superintendent fires entire school staff after semen-tasting allegations.

Others, such as 89.3 KPCC, picked up the story and got it right ("Superintendent John Deasy shakes up LAUSD," the station's headline reads).

Gayle Pollard-Terry, LAUSD's director of communications, told the Weekly that she has tried to get some of the outlets to correct the mistake:

We requested a couple of corrections, and have heard nothing.

[Added at 5:50 p.m.]: Add the New York Daily News to the list:

Entire LA school's staff canned over classroom sex allegations.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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