A while back, the media caught wind of one of the worst child abuse cases in recent memory at the hands of Mark Berndt, a 61 year old Miramonte Elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles School District, who was engaging in “suspicious” activities with his students. Authorities believe Berndt fed semen-tainted cookies to his students, spoon-fed semen to them and put roaches on their faces, reported the Los Angeles Times. An investigation took place, and Berndt was arrested late January and has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against students.
Now, months after Berndt’s incarceration, the families of 20 victimized children have rightly filed a follow up lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the LA school district for negligence. The initial lawsuit claims that the school district was informed of potential misdemeanors by Berndt throughout the years – including two incidents in the 1990s when he was accused of inappropriate conduct – though the district did little to remedy the situation. Whereas the first lawsuit in May was on behalf of the 20 children who were victims of Berndt, a second lawsuit was filed on Tuesday for their parents, who “have suffered emotional distress, including shock, nervousness, anxiety, worry, humiliation and embarrassment.”
There is definitely merit to this follow up claim. Some have criticized the victims’ parents for lacking oversight in their children’s life in this tragedy, though one should keep in mind that this particular LA neighborhood is not the most affluent area and folks are trying their best. A safe learning environment must be a top priority for our public schools, and we can only hope that the LA school district and other school districts learn from this terrible incident.