Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Mark Berndt, charged with 23 counts of allegedly molesting and abusing children in his third-grade classroom, resigned before he was fired, and remains eligible for lifetime medical benefits and a pension of approximately $4,000 a month.
The school district initially had moved to fire the teacher, but then paid him $40,000 in a settlement to get him to drop an appeal of his firing. He resigned after that settlement gave him the big payout and benefits.
The 61-year-old teacher was charged after a film processor reported the existence of photos depicting him blindfolding students, taping their mouths shut, putting cockroaches on their faces and playing a "tasting game" that involved his bodily fluids.
This case, and allegations of sex crimes against another teacher at the same school, led district officials to close Miramonte Elementary School briefly while they replaced the entire staff, from janitors to the principal. The old staff was reassigned to a school that is under construction. (Sources: KHTS Radio, February 3; San Jose Mercury News, February 10.)