Aaron Benner, a black educator, has accused the district of failing black students by not holding them accountable for disruptive behavior.
What We Know:
- Back in 2014, Benner, along with four other teachers within the St. Paul district, joined forces at a board meeting in hopes to emphasize the importance of demanding higher expectations of students and the greater consequences for those who misbehave. Benner felt led to quit due to sudden investigations against him during the 2014-2015 school year alone. He had no prior investigations. He went on to file a lawsuit against the board in 2017 because he felt that the retaliation against him was due to him challenging the racial-equity policy.
- At the time, the board was being led by Valeria Silva, who sought to reduce racial disparities in student discipline. Silva left the superintendent post with a buyout in 2016.
- U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in May that the case could go to trial after concluding that a sensible juror might agree that Benner was forced to quit. The school board approved the $525,000 payout Tuesday before Benner’s scheduled trial next month.
- St. Paul Public School’s District released the following statement: “We are pleased this matter is resolved. This agreement enables the District to avoid the time, expense and uncertainty of protracted legal proceedings regarding its previous policies, practices and expectations. It allows the District to move forward and fully devote its energy and resources toward our strategic plan, SPPS Achieves. (This year) marks the first full year of implementing SPPS Achieves. This plan is rooted in our mission: to inspire students to think critically, pursue their dreams and change the world. It also reflects the District’s guiding values of achievement, communication, continuous improvement, collaboration, accountability, and inclusiveness. That is why as the new school year begins, we are continuing our efforts to prioritize District resources to help make an impact on student learning and supporting our students, families and staff to contribute to the improvement of long-term student outcomes.”
Benner is now dean of students at a St. Paul Private School and thanks his former students and co-workers for their willingness to support him during his trial.