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LAUSD Settles Miramonte Claims with $27 Million Payout

Nine-year-old Ashley Villatoro, left, holds a poster showing an image of former teacher Martin B. Springer as students arrive at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles.

By Barbara Jones

Los Angeles Unified has paid out more than $27 million to settle claims by nearly five dozen children who allege they were molested by former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, the district announced.

The 58 settlements were reached earlier this year, and are among 63 cases that have been resolved in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal that triggered a slate of new district policies designed to protect student safety.

Two additional cases have been settled and are awaiting a judge’s OK for payment, a district spokesman said.

About 68 other sex-abuse claims related to alleged abuse by Berndt remain unresolved.

The settlements total $30 million, giving each child roughly $470,000. The money will be invested in structured settlements arranged by the children’s attorneys to ensure their long-term costs are covered.

Berndt is accused of feeding his own semen to 23 children while teaching at Miramonte in Wilmington. He has pleaded not guilt and remains jailed in lieu of $23 million bail, pending a preliminary hearing.

Berndt was fired by LAUSD, then given a $40,000 payout to drop an appeal of his termination.

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