MN teacher gets settlement from St. Paul school district

The St. Paul school district has agreed to pay its former teacher Aaron Benner a $525,000 settlement in response to Benner’s federal lawsuit against the district, according to the Star Tribune.

Benner, a teacher with an impeccable 20-year career, sued the district for allegedly retaliating against him after he challenged its discipline policies.

At a school board meeting in May 2014, Benner spoke out against the St. Paul Public Schools’ new “racial equity” policy, as he believed it was doing a disservice to students of color by not holding them accountable for disruptive behavior. During the 2014-2015 school year, Benner endured an onslaught of attacks that included four district-led investigations. He claimed the investigations reflected unequal scrutiny and created a hostile work environment, causing him to resign from the school district instead of risk being fired.

News of the settlement has added another highlight to Benner’s 2019 year. “I thank God for all the blessings in my life. I turned 50 this year, got married in July and now (there is) this settlement,” Benner said in an email to the Star Tribune.

But missing in the media coverage was how the teachers’ union failed to advocate for Benner while the district was retaliating against him.

“My union rep tried to have me plea to one of the investigations which made it clear to me that my union was complicit with the district,” Benner shared with Educated Teachers. “My problem with my union is that they sat back and allowed the St. Paul School District to harass me and did nothing. They took my union dues and did nothing to represent me.”

The Center congratulates Aaron Benner on the settlement and commends him for bravely and courageously telling the truth about the tragic impact St. Paul Public Schools’ misguided disciplinary policy has had on students and teachers alike.