Deja vu! No, your mind is not playing tricks on you. This piece was originally published on February 11, 2012. During the maintenance and server move this past weekend it was lost. Fortunately I was able to recreate it.*
The sick, twisted pedophile teacher was paid $40,000 to drop his dismissal challenge.
My God, I wish I never would have looked. Horrifying. ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING.
*Content Warning: Additional details of the abuse at [all] links are extremely graphic.*
(LA Times) –The Los Angeles Unified School District paid Mark Berndt, the teacher at the center of the Miramonte Elementary child abuse scandal, $40,000 to drop the challenge to his dismissal last year.
The payout consisted of four months of back salary plus reimbursement for the cost of health benefits. Berndt was fired by the Board of Education in February 2011 after officials learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was investigating him for alleged lewd acts against students. He was arrested last week.
The firing took Berndt off the district payroll. But he fought to keep his job through an appeal process that lasted until he settled with the school system and resigned in June.
The settlement with Berndt came in the face of a dilemma, said L.A. Unified general counsel David Holmquist. A hearing on the dismissal was pending and the district didn’t have evidence to justify the firing because the Sheriff’s Department investigation was ongoing.
Berndt was charged last week with 23 counts of lewd conduct against children; another teacher, Martin Springer, was charged this week with three counts of lewd conduct. [...]
More from the LA Times:
When Berndt, 61, was arrested, school district officials said they had no record of any previous misconduct or complaints against him. But evidence of past warning signs has since emerged.
The perverted monster appealed his dismissal even though the physical evidence against him is STAGGERING!
Via the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department:
Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau detectives arrested 61-year old Mark Berndt, a teacher with over 30 years experience at a South Los Angeles elementary school, on child molestation charges after conducting an extensive sex crimes investigation.
The investigation began over a year ago when over 40 photographs depicting children in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were turned in to law enforcement by a film processor. Film processors are mandated to report suspected child abuse under California law (11166 of the California State Penal Code).
Investigators learned that some of the photos depicted Suspect Mark Berndt with his arm around the children, or with his hand over their mouths.[...]
Dead to rights.
D & Q the sick bastard.
(LA Weekly) Academically, the veteran third-grade teacher scored below-average marks in the LA Times 2009 teacher ratings.
The big question that remains this morning: Why was Berndt allowed to walk freely among us for the year that it took the Special Victims Bureau to complete its probe?
Lieutenant Carlos Marquez tells KNX that investigators were œmonitoringâ€ the ex-teacher in the months after he was fired. He argues that any immediate danger was mitigated by the school board’s decision to kick Berndt off campus, and says the Sheriff’s Department wanted to gather all possible evidence before making an arrest.
For instance, DNA testing on the spoon and container was only completed a month and a half ago. But still why?
The department insists that the task was complicated enough to warrant the delay. Try telling that to the hundreds, even thousands, of horrified Miramonte parents whose children were exposed to Berndt in his 30-plus years at the elementary school.
Update: LAUSD’s statement:
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision to settle with former Miramonte Elementary School teacher, Mark Berndt, last June was the most immediate way to ensure he would no longer be an employee of the District and guarantee he would not be a threat to any other student in LAUSD.
When the Board of Education initiated steps to fire Berndt in February 2011, Berndt immediately fought his dismissal through an appeal hearing process with the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which every permanent certificated employee has the right to under the Education Code.
During the appeal process the responsibility lies with the District to present evidence and witnesses to justify the dismissal of a teacher, and in the case of Berndt, to demonstrate that he is unfit to be a teacher in LAUSD.
However, through no control of the District, law enforcement agencies did not allow the District access to any evidence or witnesses so as to prevent interference with the criminal investigation. Similarly, the District was prohibited by law enforcement from conducting its own investigation or gathering evidence for purposes of the dismissal hearing. Consequently, LAUSD was left with no evidence to successfully present a case to dismiss Berndt. As a District, we would not want to compromise any criminal investigation surrounding an alleged perpetrator.
Given this restraint, LAUSD also ran the risk of losing the appeal process and as a consequence, being forced to retain Berndt as an employee of LAUSD. In light of this potential risk, the LAUSD’s most prudent and viable option was to settle.
Our main priority is always the safety and well being of our students and providing them a safe learning environment.
Settling for $40,000 to pay the approximately five months of salary Berndt would have otherwise been statutorily entitled to and other related expenses was a guaranteed result given the uncertainties of the dismissal process and the inability to access evidence in this dismissal matter.
The State’s current teacher dismissal framework makes it extremely difficult to terminate unfit teachers like Berndt, thus requiring the District to find other viable options to ensure the safety of our students.
I’ve made this very, very clear: I think that state law is a problem,said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
Deasy says the district tried to fire Berndt when the investigators discovered the photographs last year. But because of current state law, Berndt was able to appeal his termination and allowed to resign and maintain his pension. In addition, the district had to pay his legal bills and back pay.
I wish it were otherwise,said Deasy. I think it should be otherwise. But we all follow the law until something else changes. And so if you actually want the person off the payroll, you settle.
Teachers unions protect pedophile teachers.
Also see: Protecting Bad Teachers, Ten Worst Union-Protected Teachers Contest, Watering Down Teacher Evaluations and For Parents: Local School Info at Teachers Union Exposed
Also see: WTH?! No Legal Consequences For An Assistant US Attorney Under Holder For Possession Of Child Porn