...when it allows scum like this to retain benefits: Parents demand to know why they weren't told that L.A. teacher was suspected of photographing children in class for sexual thrills - NY Daily News LOS ANGELES - Angry parents in Los Angeles want to know why they weren't told for a year that a teacher was suspected of photographing children in class for sexual thrills. Mark Berndt, 61, is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to elementary school students. He appeared in court to face charges he bound and blindfolded dozens of students. -- The photos, along with hundreds more recovered from Berndt's home, show Berndt with his arms around some children or with his hands over their lips, cops said. Some allegedly show children with tape over their mouths. Several girls were photographed with a blue plastic spoon filled with an unknown clear white liquid up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance, cops said. Investigators later recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash in Berndt's classroom. Both tested positive for Berndt's semen, authorities said. L.A. teacher suspected of lewd conduct keeps benefits - latimes.com A teacher charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct in his classroom successfully thwarted attempts by the Los Angeles Unified School District to fire him. In the process, the teacher, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded children, managed to retain lifetime health-benefits provided by the nations second-largest school system. Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt also automatically receives nearly $4,000 a month in pension from the California State Teachers' Retirement System. -- The districts legal staff warned Cortines that there might be complications for acting so quickly. Standard practice in L.A. Unified and elsewhere has been to house teachers in a district office, away from students, until a legal issue is resolved. But Cortines said he told senior staff that he didnt want to wait, an account that was confirmed by a former Cortines aide. By Feb. 15, the paperwork was ready for the elected Board of Education to dismiss Berndt formally and the school board ratified Cortines decision. As of Feb. 16, the district stopped paying Berndt, said Vivian Ekchian, chief human resources officer for L.A. Unified. But the matter didn't end there. Berndt had 30 days to challenge his dismissal, which he did with the help of Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad, a firm known for representing the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. In this case, Berndt hired the firm privately; its specialties include defending teachers facing dismissal. Berndts case was then set to go before an administrative hearing panel, a process that would take months. While awaiting a hearing, Berndt resigned from the school system in June 2011, six months after Deasy and Cortines determined to fire him. Because Berndt never was officially fired, he retains lifetime health benefits that he earned through decades of service in L.A. Unified. Ekchian said the district is researching its options for trying to rescind those benefits should Berndt be convicted.