Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy confirmed with Fox 11 News that he has seen some of the more than 400 photos of teacher Mark Berndt allegedly spoonfeeding his semen to blindfolded and gagged students, some with cockroaches on their faces.
"It's sick. It makes you sick to your stomach," Deasy said (see video above).
"It's despicable," he continued. "I think the thing that is just so horrifying for us is we have thousands of amazing teachers. And we put our trust in them as they supervise students. And to violate that trust is just unforgivable."
The Superintendent confirmed that the district, upon receiving the allegations from the police, removed the 61-year-old teacher from the classroom immediately and fired him a week later.
However, according to KTLA, although the school did take steps to fire Berndt, somehow he was allowed to resign before termination, which meant that he was able to retain all of his benefits. The Huffington Post reached out to Deasy for clarification on the issue, to which his representative responded: "After the Board approved his dismissal, we placed him in unpaid status pending OAH [California Office of Administrative Hearings] hearing. He resigned prior to the hearing. It is true that current laws do not prevent an individual from earning his retirement benefits."
As the Los Angeles Times reports, Berndt will receive $4,000 a month in pension for life from the California State Teachers' Retirement System as well as lifetime health benefits from the district.
Deasy told Fox 11 that the district is working with the police on the investigation: "We're trying to determine with the police exactly the time of the photographs, where they took place... I went over to the classroom. You can see into the classroom."
When asked what changes will be implemented to ensure such a nightmare never occurs again, the Superintendent said they've changed district procedure to include random supervision of non-instructional time, for example when a teacher is in the classroom during lunch break.
"The instructional time would've had whole classes there. It would be very unlikely that a student wouldn't have told us," Deasy explained. "Non-instructional time, when students are supposedly in a play yard -- that is the only thing we can think of that might have happened."
The Superintendent tweeted about the incident Tuesday evening, saying, "Miramonte families and staff have our full support. Thank you to the police for putting this sick person in jail."
UPDATE: Superintendent Deasy's confirmation that Berndt will continue to receive pension and benefits has been added to this story.
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