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St. Paul Public Schools settles lawsuit for $525,000 with former teacher

Updated: September 17, 2019 10:18 PM

St. Paul Public Schools and a former teacher have settled a lawsuit for $525,000 after a federal judge ruled in May the case could move forward with a jury trial.

Aaron Benner, a former teacher, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the district in 2017, alleging the district had retaliated against him for speaking out against the district's disciplinary policies.

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U.S. District Judge Susan Richard-Nelson rejected the school district’s attempt to have the case dismissed and said it would be allowed to go to a jury trial.

“The factual disputes in this case are simply too wide and too important for the Court to deny Benner a jury trial as to all of his claims," the judge wrote in her opinion.

Benner and his attorney have not yet commented on the settlement.

SPPS, through two years of litigation, has maintained Benner's claims were without merit and it had not retaliated against Benner for his public criticism of the school district.

SPPS issued the following statement Tuesday night:

"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." 

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