With reporting from Beth Barrett

We already know that the L.A. Unified School District paid alleged student molester Mark Berndt $40,000 to go away.

It's an astonishing fact, even though the district contends that the payoff was the only way to get him to leave as he appealed the disciplinary case against him (last spring, long before his arrest last month on similar allegations).

But here, thanks to intrepid Weekly reporter Beth Barrett, we have the actual document that put this suspect in the money:

Mark Berndt Settlement

Yeah, read it and weep.

As KPCC reported nearly two weeks ago, Berndt was given about $40,000, including back pay and attorneys' fees, to retire and go away after accusations of horrific lewd conduct against at least 23 of his students arose early last year.

The document, obtained by Barrett through a California Public Records Act request, notes that Berndt was actually reinstated for the purpose of getting some of that cash, $23,980.10 worth.

Another $16,019.90 went to his attorney between 30 and 60 days later.

And, proving that L.A. Unified School District really does care about how your money is spent, the document states:

The district understands that Berndt intends to apply for retirement sometime after his resignation takes effect.

Yeah. And it cares about the kids too. The agreement says that Berndt's personnel file “shall remain confidential.”


As Barrett reported in the most recent print edition of the Weekly, district general counsel David Holmquist signed off on the deal without a vote of the school board:

In fact, the board has given Holmquist the power to settle with teachers for up to $250,000 without consulting it, regardless of the allegations.


The district says that the Sheriff's Department asked it to hold back on its own investigation of Berndt, meaning that it had to settle or let him stay on as an employee while detectives moved slowly with their case.

There were, however, other options: Defying the department and doing its federal, Title 9 duty of informing students and parents of the allegations while building an administrative case against him and keeping him out of the classroom.

That would have been too difficult for a can't-do district deathly afraid of the powerful teacher's union, though.

We give the district an A … for a-holes.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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