Last week I reported to you the disturbing case of Mark Berdnt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles County. Berndt was arrested on 23 counts of lewd acts on children – acts that included blindfolding his students and feeding them his own semen. To add insult to injury, under California law, Berndt is eligible to retire early and collect his $4000/month pension for the rest of his life, regardless of any criminal conviction.
In a stunning twist of events a second teacher from the same elementary school- Martin Bernard Springer- has been arrested on child molestation charges stemming from revelations made last week that fondled at least two students in his classroom. Ironically, one of the students who came forth with the allegations had also been a student in Berndt’s class back in 2008. She was transferred to Springer’s class after her parents complained about Berndt. The student, who was 7-years-old at the time came home with pictures of her and another girl standing against a wall and being fed cookies with a “light liquid” on them. The school dismissed the claims and transferred the girl to Springer’s class.
Today, many parents have chosen to keep their children out of the school and are organizing a protest to express their frustration with the school board for keeping them in the dark for so long. The school will be closed until this Wednesday at least while an investigation is being conducted. The Los Angeles Unified School District will hold a meeting on Monday night to talk with concerned parents. They’ll meet earlier in the day to decided whether or not to fire Springer in the wake of the allegations.
Let’s try to be fair here: it’s entirely possible that parents and students are understandably sensitive right now about this whole situation. It could be that Springer is simply a victim of these enhanced sensitivities right now. Child abuse is a very serious charge and thus I am leery about jumping on the bandwagon to convict this man in the court of public opinion before there is more solid proof (unlike his colleague, who thoughtfully provided photographic evidence of his depravity). However, if these allegations prove to be true, its time for Los Angeles County, districts and unions across the country to admit that there is a serious problem in our public school: one of oversight, education and staffing. The Catholic church has been excoriated over revelations that they have ignored and/or covered up serious sex abuse for decades. The same thing is happening right under our noses in our own schools, yet criticism of a system that allows such behavior to flourish is squashed or labeled as “hate” and “ignorance”. Worse still, you have a choice to attend a Catholic church or not. But for too many children across the country they have absolutely no choice in what school they attend. They have to roll the dice and just hope that they don’t end up under the tutelage of someone like Berndt and his ilk.
If Springer is fired, just like his colleague Berndt he will still be eligible to receive his full pension until the day he dies under California law. Is it still “all about the children”, union? Really?
You can navigate to KTLA out of Los Angeles to get the full scoop and videos on both stories.
UPDATE: KABC 790 Talk Radio out of Los Angeles is reporting that a third teacher will be arrested soon in connection with these two cases. Reportedly the teacher is a female who acted as a sort of “pimp” for Berdnt and possibly Springer. Conservative Daily News will post updates as we receive them.