The Los Angeles public school system said Friday that it will pay $139 million to settle legal claims from students subjected to lewd sexual acts committed by a third-grade teacher.
The settlement with the Los Angeles Unified School District comes in a grisly case that has been ongoing since an employee at a photo development store uncovered inappropriate pictures of the teacher, Mark Berndt, with students in 2010. Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Middle School, pleaded no contest to charges of child abuse in 2013 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Parents of about 150 students filed legal claims arguing that the school district was negligent in protecting children.
“Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community,” school superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement. “Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve.”