LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A firestorm of controversy erupted Friday when it was revealed that the Los Angeles Unified School District had entered into a $40,000 settlement with a former Miramonte Elementary School teacher — accused among other things of blindfolding his students and feeding them his bodily fluids — in a sexual abuse scandal that has rocked Los Angeles.

The LAUSD released the following statement regarding the controversial settlement:

“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.”

Comments (10)
  1. Dave says:

    “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.

    And yet, he was still employed at the school, and still molesting children. This crazy situation exists bevause of the cozy relationship between public-sector employee unions, and the politicians who collect donations from them. The unions contibute to politicians, who give union members raises, and the politicians pass laws making it impossible to terminate sexual preadtors at elementary schools. And the voters keep sending the same politicians back again and again. But its the REPUBLICANS who hate kids, and want poor children to suffer. Thats what the democrats who created this mess keep telling us.

  2. Rene diedrich says:

    This is bull. The district could easily convene to fire anyone. The second teacher accused was dismissed by the board without a hearing or apparently the union ‘ s objections. He has been freed by police and one accuser already recanted. I would not call that due process,
    It’s funny how LAUSD Drarely knows what it’s other hand is doing because they are attempting to shift blame on the police, who say Deasy delayed their investigatin by forbidding employees from discussing the case. Obviously Miramonte teachers are removed from their classrooms to make sure no incriminating statements are uttered . This more than suggests that teacher’s probably reported concerns., which went unneeded. In fact, teachers know there is a zero tolerance policy on reporting anything the administrators would rather not hear.
    An accused teacher can be housed for a long time. Since this mans pension was going to be paid to him, there was no need to rush as they did. If police really ordered them to proceed without evidence and witnesses, it seems reckless for them to waste so much time and money firing a person who will soon be behind bars. This person should have been sent home to wait. No one wants this sort Languishing in rubber rooms much less the hood, but firing him or buying him off or whatever really went on because the story is changing all the time.,Botttom line Deasy is no good at conflict resolution, but the union will be blamed
    And they took no part of it

  3. 1stman says:

    He’s white that’s the real explanation.

  4. william siddall says:

    I work in a school district,and most have a confidentualiy rule where we are called to a meeting and told NOT TO TALK about anything BAD that happens,you would never know all the things that go on,you would never believe all the things covered up, thats all I can say

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