The sexual abuse scandal that has led to the replacement of the entire staff of a Los Angeles area elementary school that is predominantly Latino continues to grow.
Authorities are now investigating new allegations that a teacher's aide sent love letters to an 11-year-old boy attending the school.
The mother of a fourth-grader came to officials at Miramonte Elementary School in 2009 to report that the aide, a woman in her 50s, had written several letters, including one that said the boy gave her chills.
"When I was writing this letter, I was crying. My heart was breaking into pieces," wrote the teacher's aide, identified as Areceli Luisjuan, in a letter obtained by the Times. "Oh! I didn't tell you that I like when you put your arm around my shoulder, and if I told you not to do that it's because I don't want to put you in trouble, but I like it…
Two teachers, who have spent their entire careers at the same school, have been accused of molesting students at the school. Most recently, Martin Bernard Springer, 48, was charged Tuesday with three felony counts and fired by the Los Angeles Board of Education after two students at the school accused him of fondling them. One of the students has since recanted her story, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Springer's arrest comes after the South Los Angeles community continues to reel from the arrest of former teacher Mark Berndt, 61, last week. Authorities say Berndt spoon-fed his semen to blindfolded children as part of what he called a "tasting game." Police found hundreds of disturbing photos taken by Berndt, who faces 23 felony counts and is being held on $23 million bail.
The mother of the boy who received the love letters told the Times that she met with school officials and the teacher's aide acknowledged writing the letters. A school district spokeswoman says the woman no longer works for the school system. The mother has said she told sheriff's deputies and the school system failed to take her seriously the first time she brought the matter to their attention.
In order to address parents concerns, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Monday night that more than 120 staff members at the school — everyone from the principal and teachers to the cafeteria workers — were being replaced pending a full investigation into the horrific allegations of sexual abuse by two of the school's teachers.
"We intend to interview every adult, every adult who works at that school, whether they are a teacher or administrator, or whether they are an after-school playground worker or a custodian or a secretary. I mean every single solitary adult who works at Miramonte," Deasy said to parents who packed a high school gymnasium.
An entire staff has been selected to come into Miramonte's classrooms to take over teaching for the time being, and there will be a psychiatric social worker in every classroom to help students and staff cope with any issues.
Deasy emphasized that all new staff members being brought into the classroom went through a "very rigorous screening process."
The meeting with parents came after a parent protest in which dozens of parents of students in the overwhelmingly Latino school, some clutching banners others chanting, protested a lack of action regarding the allegations. The parents demanded greater communication with education officials and the placement of cameras in classrooms and hallways.
Many Miramonte parents complained bitterly that they weren't informed about the yearlong investigation. Many heard the sordid details on news reports or from the TV crews camped out at the school's entrance.
School officials said they deferred to sheriff's detectives, who asked them not to divulge details that might affect their investigation.
Maria Jiménez, 51, said the parents are divided over the decision to remove the school's 88 teachers and 40 other staff members.
"Some are in favor," she said. "Others are against it because they did this without advising us or consulting us."
Contains material from The Associated Press.