Why Miramonte Was the Perfect Stalking Ground
Mark Berndt, Martin Springer could have easily preyed on disadvantaged kids
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2012 7:22 AM CST
In this undated police booking photo released by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department shows former Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt, 61.   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – As Martin Springer, one of the teachers charged in a Los Angeles school sex abuse scandal, was released on bail today, USA Today takes a look at Miramonte Elementary and why it may have been the perfect place for an abuser to prey on vulnerable, disadvantaged children. The school's 1,400 students come mainly from impoverished Latino homes, and some of their parents are illegal immigrants—meaning they are hesitant to approach authorities for fear of being deported. And because many of the parents don't speak English, they are unlikely to be involved with their children's school.

"You have lots of the very poor who don't even know what their rights are," says a former state senator who once represented the area. "You have the undercurrent of immigration, undercurrent of poverty. Miramonte is not Malibu. It's a perfect recipe for a predator." Indeed, a former teacher's aide from the school was imprisoned in 2004 for sexually abusing three kindergartners. Says the father of one alleged victim, "The school is almost 100% Latino. It's because of that they discriminate against us. We are poor people." Now, investigators are looking into a possible "culture of silence" among adults at the school, the superintendent has said, and experts agree that could be the case.

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
jamiealex1569
Feb 11, 2012 6:25 PM CST
First of all i want to say that ANYBODY who abuses children, sexually, mentally, and physically should be shot to death. Now that that was said i also think EVERYBODY who is in this country illegally should be deported ASAP!!! As far as i'm concerned anyone in this country DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT have any legal rights because YOU ARE NOT CITIZENS!!!! What happened to these children is WRONG, and the pedophiles should be sentenced to death, but all of the illegal aliens should be deported to their home countries as well!!
backpath2
Feb 11, 2012 6:28 AM CST
Public education is anything but, except for the costs to the taxpayer. Kids are warehoused all day in large institutions. The curriculum is top heavy with Federal and state regulations about what to teach and how to teach it. Schools are run by well-paid bureaucrats whose first duty is not to the kids or their parents, but to the regulatory infrastructure and to protecting their turf. Teachers are too often lacking in talent and inspiration, and just do what they have to do to get by. Administrators are generally unresponsive to the concerns of parents. Bad teachers are almost impossible to get rid of, because they're in a union and have contracts. In this sort of atmosphere, its no surprise that horrible abuses go un-noticed, or even worse, are enabled. The solution is to abolish the public education system in the United States. Some of the monies thus freed up could be given as grants to low and middle income parents to pay for tuition at private schools, which have a much better track record of delivering a quality education, responding to parental concerns, and protecting their students from abuse. Ending public education would give a shot in the arm to private education, offer parents and students greater choice and higher quality, save the taxpayer money, and get the government out of the business of educating our kids. It would also encourage more parents to home school their children, a laudable enterprise.
fractal
Feb 10, 2012 2:38 PM CST
Plus, most Latino kids are Catholics. And that means they probably don't talk about sex in the home much, except to tell the kids how BAD you are for thinking about it... The catholic church, like most fundys, foster an atmosphere of untouchable authority and hierarchy. Challenging authority is just not done. This attitude generalizes and makes the kids feel that they have no one who will support and believe them. My sister was fondled by our uncle when she was 11. She told me, but we didn't even bother to tell our parents about it. They were all fundy Catholic, and would never have believed a child who accused a rich catholic businessman. The drama would not have been worth it, and nothing good would ever have come of it...