|Image from Flickr, by Vector Portal
In a phenomenal case of collective punishment, Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy is firing the entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School in response to two of its teachers being charged with lewd conduct. Miramonte is one of the largest elementary schools in the U.S., according to the Los Angeles Times, with over 150 teachers and administrative staff.
In the wake of the accusations, parents kept more than 25% of the student body home from school on Monday. Parents also held a demonstration at the school.
It is certainly understandable that parents would be scared and irate—the two teachers were accused of some absolutely dreadful behavior. LAUSD emphasized that the allegations have “placed a cloud over the campus that can be lifted only with a drastic response,” the Los Angeles Times reported. However, no other teachers have been accused of any misconduct or are under investigation. Therefore, firing them does nothing to lift this cloud. On the contrary, it creates a bigger cloud that makes the innocent teachers appear to be part of the scandal, tarnishing their reputations in the process.
The mass firing is not only unfair and abusive to the innocent teachers, it does nothing to make the school safer or heal the wounds. Firing just the administrators, however, who are responsible for ensuring the safety of the school and for hiring and firing teachers, would have been much simpler and cheaper for the district, which must continue to pay the salaries of the displaced teachers. John Deasy, himself, ought to step down, since he is ultimately responsible for what happens in LAUSD schools.
Deasy continues to claim that student safety is district’s first priority. However, there had been numerous student and parent complaints against one of the accused teachers, Mark Berndt, over the past 20 years which some parents claim were either ignored or not taken seriously. One student was transferred from the classroom of Berndt to the classroom of the other accused teacher after the family complained about him. The L.A. county district attorney’s office also refused to bring molestation charges against Brandt in 1994 due to insufficient evidence.