As the investigation into child sexual abuse allegations within the Los Angeles school system continues, Superintendant John Deasy has taken a major step towards ending what he called a “culture of silence.”
Shortly after the abuse allegations started coming out, Deasy had all teachers at the Miramonte Elementary School sent elsewhere, but this week, he fired the school’s entire staff, telling the Associated Press, “It was a quick, responsible, responsive action to a heinous situation. We’re not going to spend a long time debating student safety.”
Among the allegations brought against the teachers were that one, Mark Berndt, fed cookies with his semen on top to the children in his classroom. Just before Berndt’s arrest, another Miramonte educator, Martin B. Springer, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children.
In response to the horrific allegations, Deasy, 51, a man known for his get-it-done attitude and often-criticized decisions, thought it best to give the school a fresh start and bring in a new staff. He has also urged more than 50 current principals throughout the district to retire or transfer and allow him to interview their replacements to better serve the students.
Deasy had not been Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District for a year when the alleged abuse came to light.
“I’m intolerant when it comes to students being disrespected,” Deasy told <em>AP. “I do what I think is right and everyone has the right to criticize. You appreciate the critics, but you wouldn’t get up in the morning if you listened to them.”
The predominantly Latino school district is responsible for educating 660,000 students, and Deasy, known to students as Dr. D., was determined to fulfill the promises he made to improve performance and graduation rates.
Deasy is on a mission to improve test scores, graduation rates, and various other aspects of students’ education in eight years and has been working to set up reforms to make those things happen within his first four years.
This mass firing, as expected, has caught both criticism and praise from parents, administrators, and educators. However, despite critics like former president of the L.A. teachers union known as the Union Teachers Los Angeles protesting that there are “processes” to go through before actions such as this, Deasy says, “The culture in this district has been talk, protest, argue, not actually do.”
“This style has come up against that.”