Friday, July 13, 2012

Entire Staff Fired At LA School

From custodian to principal - no one at  the low income Miramonte Elementary School, which is 98 percent Latino, was spared. 
"It was a quick, responsible, responsive action to a heinous situation," Superintendent John Deasy said. "We're not going to spend a long time debating student safety." 
In February, Mark Berndt was arrested for felony molestation of 23 kids after photos surfaced including allegedly feeding his students semen as part of a bizarre and stomach-turning food-tasting game.  Berndt taught at the school for 30 years. 
In response to the heinous allegations, Deasy ordered, what at the time was called, the temporary replacement of all of Miramonte's teachers.  
The controversial decision underscores the 51-year-old superintendent's shake-up of the lethargic bureaucracy at the nation's second-largest school district. His swift, bold moves have rankled some and won praise from others during his first year of leadership.
There are definitely two sides to this coin.

First, we have someone making bold decisions.  He's getting attention, and teachers who do things like feed kids bodily fluids have been put on notice.  The message is that he's watching.  Deasy acts on the obvious, which is that in thirty years, you can bet one person knew something awful was happening and did nothing, or observed that Berndt was a risk.  So he put those who turn a blind eye on notice as well.  He's watching, and he will be asking why you weren't watching, and you better have a good answer.  He seems willing to work harder than he asks others to, and has been clear about setting goals that are measurable.  He's at least trying something besides red tape and confused shrugs.

On the other hand, a lot of people who truly had nothing to do with this incident will now carry that on their records, at a time when jobs aren't easy to come by.  The stigma of this school will stain reputations in an area that will remember this for a long time to come.  They paid a hefty price, and there is still a lot to be paid.  Their unfortunate position should remain highlighted as a radical change instead of a disciplinary, but that's if they can find openings in their field.

Was it a necessary change?  I see what he was doing.  I don't disagree with it on some levels, though again the price was high for some people who did nothing wrong.  In the long run, it will be worth it if the shakeup really works like intended.  Either way, I wish him the best of luck.

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