Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


LAUSD Has Gotten Rid Of Hundreds Of Teachers: Here Are Some Of The Horrifying Stories Of Misconduct

LAUSD bus (Photo by Jo Martin Photography via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
Support your source for local news!
The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

In January 2012, news broke that a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School named Mark Berndt had allegedly blindfolded his students and fed them his semen as part of a sick and twisted "tasting game." It emerged that people had complained about Berndt in the past, but no one took their complaints seriously.

In the wake of the scandal, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy enacted a zero-tolerance policy and ordered administrators to comb their files for any teachers who posed a threat to student. Since then, 100 teachers have been fired and 200 resigned under pressure. 300 teachers are still under investigation, according to The Daily News.

School board member Tamar Galatzan told The Daily News the culture of the district is changing, and more people seem to be willing to come forward with their complaints against teachers:

"We've heard from principals that, 10 years ago, many felt that if they jumped through all the hoops to recommend dismissal, the board wouldn't back them and they would get a teacher back who not only had been reported for wrongdoing but was now hostile. Now, principals know that their recommendation will be supported. Once the allegations are investigated and confirmed, the board will move to dismiss teachers who shouldn't be teaching."
Support for LAist comes from

The union that represents teachers isn't happy about Deasy's crackdown (or most of his tenure, in general). They are concerned that the investigations are being used to fire veteran teachers at the upper end of the pay scale—and it does appear that many of the teachers who were fired are in their 50s and 60s. Richard Schwab, a lawyer at Trygstad, Schwab & Trystad, represents United Teachers Los Angeles and he told The Daily News that he's worried that the charges haven't been appropriately investigated. He said the investigations are "a tool being used to attack some very, very good teachers."Deasy sat down with the Los Angeles Daily News to detail some of the cases in which teachers or employees were fired. He did not name the employees or the school where they worked, but he identified them by their birth month and year and the region of the district where they worked.

The stories are told from the perspective of the district, and we're guessing Deasy shared the worst of the worst cases. But still, the details and sheer volume of abuse—even in a district as large as LAUSD—are horrifying. Teachers were fired for humiliating students, groping them, showing porn in class and injuring so badly they were left with cuts, bruises, blisters and head injuries. In some cases, special-education students, handicapped students and even preschool students were named as targets of teacher's abuse. Many of the incidents detailed happened on site, though some teachers were let go because of criminal records or allegations from other school districts.

Most of the complaints detailed bubbled up in the months after the Miramonte scandal erupted, but investigators found that some of the teachers had been dogged by similar complaints for years. Sometimes in the process of investigating teachers, they discovered more stomach-churning details. We highlighted a few of cases:

  • Students reported that a male high school teacher forced them to "role-play" sex acts between a master and slave. A female student complained that he fondled and hugged his students. The accusations emerged in November 2011, and he was fired in November 2012.
  • A male high school teacher pulled a table out from under a special-needs student who was resting his head on the table. The boy fell and suffered a head injury that required medical treatment. The teacher's file revealed that he had 16 complaints that he had verbally and physically abused students and confronted parents. The allegations were reported in February 2012, and he was fired in December.
  • A high school student said a female teacher took her on a trip to a sex shop in Hollywood, where the teacher bought sex toys. The teacher's file included a photocopy of the sales receipt and pictures of her purchases. The incident was reported in February 2012, and the teacher was fired in March 2013.
  • Parents took their son to the hospital after he came home from his elementary school with blisters on his palms. Investigators found out that the teacher forced him and another classmate to crawl on pavement back and forth because they were late for school. The teacher had several warnings about misconduct. The incident was reported in February 2012, and he was fired in February 2013.
  • A special-education aide reported that an elementary school teacher trained his studented to give him full body massages while he rested. During an investigation, students said he shouted profanity at them and smacked them with rolled-up paper to discipline them. The investigation began in March 2012, and the teacher was fired this November.
  • A female student complained that a male high school teacher touched her inappropriately. His disciplinary file revealed that there had been similar complaints at six different schools. He was admonished once for making female students stand up and exhibit the size of their breasts and ordering them to do jumping jacks in the classroom. The complaint was brought up in March 2012, and he was fired in December.
  • A high school student threatened to commit suicide, and it was discovered that a male teacher had ridiculed him because he thought he was gay. There were complaints in his file that he used racial slurs against black students and taunted an overweight students. He talked about his sexual relationship with a coworker and was accused of making sexual demands of another employee. The most recent complaint was in April 2012, and he was gone in December.
  • Parents reported that a high school teacher demanded that they feed and clothe him, because he was providing after-school help to their son. The complaint came up in October 2012, and he was fired in December.
  • Parents claimed that a female teacher at an elementary school sprayed whiteboard cleaner on their student's face, claiming that it was holy water to exorcise the devil from the boy's body. During the investigation, another student told investigators that she made him stand in front of the class so that they could see that he looked like a monkey. Her file contained complaints that she used inappropriate language. The most recent complaint was in October 2012, and she was fired in December.

You can read through the rest of list at The Daily News' website.

Most Read