Black Teacher Who Was Forced To Quit For Criticizing School Board’s Racial Equity Settles For $525,000
A St. Paul, Minnesota, teacher-turned-whistleblower has settled with the St. Paul Public Schools system after he was forced out for calling attention to the district racial policy when it comes to students.
Aaron Benner, who is Black, was one of five teachers who “in 2014 criticized Superintendent Valeria Silva’s plan to move disruptive African-American children back into mainstream classrooms rather than suspend them,” NBC News reported.
Across the country, Black students are disciplined at a higher rate than their white peers, according to several studies.
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He accused the school district of retaliating by forcing him to quit after he complained about the school’s racial equity policy. He filed a lawsuit in 2017. The district has agreed to pay him $525,000 to settle.
The St. Paul Public Schools “created a so-called racial equity policy that forces teachers and students to put up with disruptive Black students in the classroom rather than the school suspending or expelling them for their behavior,” Black Community News reported.
During a school board meeting five years ago, Benner criticized the policy and said it was “crippling our Black children by not holding them to the same expectations as other students.”
After he complained, Benner, 50, said the school, in turn, placed disruptive students in his classroom. He was also encouraged to change schools and his teaching assistant was fired and never replaced.
In May 2019, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled that the case could go to trial. The school board agreed to a $525,000 payout before Benner’s scheduled trial.
Benner is now dean of students at a private school in St. Paul