An elementary school in South Los Angeles was left reeling Friday after authorities arrested a second teacher accused of lewd acts with students.
The arrest of Miramonte Elementary School teacher Martin Bernard Springer, 49, came three days after L.A. prosecutors accused former teacher Mark Berndt of bizarre acts in his classroom that have generated national attention.
Berndt, 61, allegedly spoon-fed his semen to blindfolded children as part of what he called a “tasting game.” Police have collected hundreds of disturbing photos; in some, children are shown with a milky substance around their mouths.
The allegations against Springer, a second-grade teacher from Alhambra, come from two students he allegedly touched improperly within the last three years.
Also on Friday, more people came forward to say that they had complained to school officials about Berndt but that their concerns were ignored.
You know it’s a crazy world when Jezebel, of all places, makes sense:
That majority of “good” teachers,” though, may ultimately suffer the collateral damage caused by a growing public outrage with a system that seems powerless to protect children from sexual predators and assures that even a teacher who exploited his position of authority, like Berndt is accused of doing, will retain his lifetime health benefits from L.A. Unified and a pension of $4,000 a month.
This is what most outraged people about the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church: not so much that it happened, but that people in authority who could have stopped it either pretended it wasn’t happening or denied it. That, plus the system seemed so powerless to protect kids.
That this is going on in the public school system in LA should tell us that it’s not just a Catholic thing, but it’s a facet of all human cultures and institutions: to close ranks, to look the other way, to protect their own. It’s part of the human stain — but it is worse when those institutions to which people entrust their children — schools, churches — fail in this way. Similarly, it is always worse to find that a cop — the person entrusted with upholding the law — has in truth been breaking it.
Anyway, given the headline I’ve put on this thing, take it away, Mark Shea.
UPDATE: The LA school district has sacked the entire staff at the Miramonte Elementary School over this. The. Entire. Staff. So at least the Superintendent of Schools takes this stuff more seriously than the retired Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles. Or, if you read down into the story, it may be just a cosmetic gesture.