“Not Dead Enough”

News reports covering the arrest of pervert-teacher #1 prompted alleged victims of Miramonte Elementary pervert-teacher #2 to come forward. We’re gonna need a bigger shark tank. 

Here’s another math problem:

Carmen needs to earn enough money to buy a “Not Dead Enough” edition A-6 survival knife to protect herself from pervert-teachers. The knife costs $42.99 + $7.00 for shipping.  She has $18.52. How much money does Carmen need to charge her fellow students for protection to pay off a loan for the A-6?

But seriously folks…

Regardless of whether or not cops and school administrators take low income and immigrant families seriously – highly debatable in communities where Spanish is predominantly spoken – it was media-driven public awareness that caused the arrest of Mr. Martin Springer, Miramonte pervert-teacher #2, suspected of fondling two little girls. The fact that it was pervert-teacher #1’s arrest that prompted the girls to come forward underscores my preceding argument for full disclosure on the part of the school district.

Over his 32 years at Miramonte, Mark Brendt (#1) was considered a fun teacher who dressed like Micky Mouse for Halloween (!) played music in the classroom, and gave out candy (!!!). He took the children on field trips and made an effort to communicate with parents in Spanish, which goes a long way among Latino familes.

So (at the start of the police investigation) a well-liked teacher suddenly disappears and parents aren’t told why. A teacher who occasionally augments the school’s free lunch program with his own money goes missing and nobody says a word. A year later, the guy makes international headlines for acting out scenes from bondage DVDs with his students.

Berndt took advantage of the fact that the school’s parents were predominantly undereducated immigrants – factory workers and gardeners – not looking to attract attention. L.A. Unified took it for granted that those same parents would go along with its secretive guidelines regarding police investigations of teachers. And how much, I wonder, is this really about the district staying in step with law enforcement policies vs. institutional hesitancy regarding disastrous PR?

As I wrote in my previous post, I’m disturbed by the fact that there are still a number of unidentified children in the pornographic photos found in Berndt’s possession. Latino or not, immigrant or not, legal or not, these are children. That it took delayed public disclosure and outrage over Brendt’s actions to bring Springer’s into focus proves that parents are more aware of this fact than the school district itself. It also means that no amount of public scrutiny is too much to bear if it means giving kids a shot at recovery and justice.

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