The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has officially shut down a special panel appointed to investigate the Miramonte Elementary School scandal, which has caused considerable controversy in the past several years. The new move is raising more questions.
According to officials, LAUSD had formed the commission in 2012 shortly after Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested and charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children. Civil rights Attorney Connie Rice was appointed to lead the panel. According to Rice, LAUSD likely disbanded the investigative panel because the school district feared any discovery that it may be held at fault, which would therefore increase its liability. LAUSD has already paid $30 million to settle civil lawsuits.
Over the past two years, Superintendent John Deasy had announced efforts to support the panel, rebuild confidence in the community, and protect children. Over time, however, funding the panel became an issue. Families of Miramonte students and their attorneys have expressed their concerns over the panel shut down, many claiming that the District made a promise which it is not following through with.
Attorney Rice, who has stated that she cares more about the students than lawsuits, said that a panel is necessary to address the issue of child abuse within the district. For now, however, it appears that the LAUSD’s image is being continually tarnished, especially after the district admitted to destroying abuse records within its schools dating back to 1988. Advocates are hopeful funding will allow an outside panel to continue investigations.