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Happel started working for St. Paul public schools in 1984, and has worked alongside children in schools as far back as 1986. In August 2003 he was transferred to Roosevelt, where he was disciplined for giving candy to students and a digital camera to a boy he allegedly met with in a school bathroom. He was warned that he could be fired for additional transgressions, but moved to Linwood in 2004 and remained until the February allegation.
In 2011, one student said Happel followed him into a bathroom regularly for a year. Happel allegedly shook his penis at the boy and spoke suggestively while the two stood next to each other at urinals. The boy’s mother alerted school staff. She reported the incident to police, according to charges in the 2014 case.
Another student said in 2011 that Happel swatted his buttocks and made a sexual comment. The incident was known to school officials but never reported to St. Paul police, the charges show. Happel was disciplined for the 2011 cases, but that was successfully grieved by the employees’ union and removed from his record.
Aniya Beckom told school officials Monday night that a Linwood Monroe teacher did not take her seriously when she reported an incident with Happel, saying the custodian had been with the school for years and wouldn’t hurt anyone.
“Nobody listened, and now another child is hurt because nobody listened,” Beckom said. “It was no investigation. They asked [Happel] a question, and he said no and denied it, and it was closed. If the school would’ve taken the proper steps, this wouldn’t have happened to another child, plain and simple.
“This happened because nobody cared.”
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708