Police Say Alleged Pervert Teacher Mark Berndt Fondled Girl 18 Years Ago, LAUSD Let Him Continue Teaching
Police say Mark Berndt, the former Miramonte Elementary School teacher who allegedly bound and gagged students and spoon-fed them his semen, fondled a young girl in 1994, but the District Attorney's Office never filed charges.
L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Dan Scott found the information while going through files on Wednesday evening. The Los Angeles Times reports:
A girl, who was 10 or 11 years old at the time, said Berndt attempted to fondle her over her clothing near her genital area, Scott said. The allegation was investigated by a sheriff's detective and presented to the district attorney's office, which rejected the case, Scott said.
The district attorney's office declined to comment, saying it was prohibited by law from discussing cases more than 60 days old in which charges were not filed.
These findings beg the mind numbingly obvious question: why the hell was this man allowed to continue teaching children at the same school for another 17 years?
Our February 2010 story "LAUSD's Dance of the Lemons" exposed how difficult it is to get a bad teacher fired in L.A. Unified.
We found that of 33,000 teachers, over a 10-year period, the district spent $3.5 million trying to fire seven of them through the appeals panel system where teachers strenuously fight back. They could fire only four -- all were just awful teachers but not accused perverts like Berndt.
Included in those millions is the cost of paying the teachers their full salary and benefits during the trial process.
One common estimate is that 1,000 really bad teachers in LAUSD -- many with severe issues -- are basically ruining the educations of thousands and thousands of kids over their years in the classroom.
These are people like Carlos Polanco, an eighth-grade history teacher at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown, who criticized a student for not successfully completing in a suicide attempt. From an L.A. Times investigation:
The eighth-grade boy held out his wrists for teacher Carlos Polanco to see.
He had just explained to Polanco and his history classmates at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown why he had been absent: He had been in the hospital after an attempt at suicide.
Polanco looked at the cuts and said they "were weak," according to witness accounts in documents filed with the state. "Carve deeper next time," he was said to have told the boy.
"Look," Polanco allegedly said, "you can't even kill yourself."
The boy's classmates joined in, with one advising how to cut a main artery, according to the witnesses.
"See," Polanco was quoted as saying, "even he knows how to commit suicide better than you."
The LAUSD school board voted to fire him but was overruled by a review commission, saying the teacher's statements weren't meant to be harmful. Polanco kept his job.
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