The teacher, 61-year-old Mark Berndt, was removed from the classroom last spring and ultimately arrested this week after pictures were discovered of him putting cockroaches on duct-taped students and convincing them to ingest his body fluids—apparently in the classroom. In a statement, the principal of his former school, Miramonte Elementary, called the situation an “unfortunate incident.” The school is in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in South Los Angeles, so he may have taken advantage of students and parents with English as a second language.
Pacific Justice Institute is offering to represent parents whose children may have been victimized at the school. PJI President Brad Dacus stated, “Unfortunate does not begin to describe what happened at this school, and that kind of lax attitude may well have contributed to these horrific crimes. The union also must answer tough questions as to how far it went to protect this monster, even after hard evidence of his crimes was discovered. These families need a voice, and we intend to make sure they are not overlooked in this process.”