A July 16 City Journal article entitled “Perverting Justice” reported “Early this year, Los Angeles police arrested Mark Berndt, a longtime teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, on 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children between the ages of seven and ten. The sickening details of the crimes Berndt is charged with committing horrified the community and the state.
More stories about California teachers accused of sexual misconduct with children have now surfaced. The Berndt case casts new light on the tortuous legal process that makes it nearly impossible for schools to rid themselves of even these depraved teachers. Perversely, the case also shows the extent to which teachers’ unions will go to protect their prerogatives….As a result of Berndt’s indictment, the Los Angeles Unified School District asked the state legislature to change existing law to speed up the process of removing such teachers.”
The legislation the LA school district asked for, Senate Bill 1530, was introduced in April by Democratic state senator Alex Padilla. The bill sailed through the state senate, passing with a 33-4 majority. The four “No” votes were all Democrats: openly homosexual senator Mark Leno of San Francisco; senator Ted Lieu, of the 28thDistrict, who earlier this year introduced SB 1172, which banned therapy to help same-sex attracted persons remove the unwanted feelings; Senator Rod Wright of the 25th District, whose sexual harassment case was settled in April, 2010 through a secret senate-approved payout of $120,000 in taxpayer money; and senator Leland Yee of San Francisco, a recipient of the Building a State of Equality Award from the pro same-sex-marriage group Equality California.
Following SB 1530’s passage in the senate, it went to the Assembly education committee. A majority vote was needed in the education committee for SB 1530 to go to a full vote on the Assembly floor. The committee consists of 11 Assemblymen, so six votes would be needed. All four Republicans and one Democrat voted in support. Of the six remaining Democrats on the committee, two, the open homosexual Tom Ammiano from San Francisco and Joan Buchanan from the East Bay (rated by Project Vote Smart as 100% Planned Parenthood, 100% NARAL, 100% Equality California), voted no. The other 4 Democrats on the committee refused to vote at all. The result: SB 1530 was dead.
The day after the June 27 vote to killing the measure, the Associated Press published an article entitled “Defeat of Calif. Teacher Bill Shows Union Power.” Reporter Christina Hoag wrote: “Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa slammed it as ‘cynical political manipulation,’ Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy termed it shameful, but for the California Teachers Association, it was a victory.
The defeat Wednesday of a proposed law that would have made it easier for school districts to fire teachers in cases of sexual and other egregious misconduct has shone a spotlight on the strong sway of the California Teachers Association, widely considered the state’s most politically influential labor union with more than 325,000 members.
The AP included the “sickening details” that the City Journal article alluded to: “Prosecutors say Mark Berndt blindfolded students and fed them his semen by spoon and smeared on cookies in what he told them was a ‘tasting game.’ He has pleaded not guilty. Police found hundreds of photos of pupils and said he’d been engaged in the activity for years. The case only came to light when a drugstore photo technician spotted the odd images and reported them to authorities.”
Berndt was removed from the classroom in 2011, as the L.A. Sheriff’s Office began its investigation. He appealed his firing. Rather than enter into the current “tortuous” (and expensive) teacher’s appeal process, the L.A. school district offered Berndt $40,000 to resign. He accepted.