A candidate for the St. Paul school board was paid $12,000 by the district last year to quit his job as a special education teacher at Murray Junior High School.
According to the settlement agreement obtained by the Star Tribune, John Krenik, a Republican-endorsed candidate for the board, agreed to "not seek or accept work as a teacher with [the] district at any time in the future" in order to receive the money.
It's not clear why the district wanted Krenik, 46, to resign.
Krenik, who had worked in the St. Paul district since 1992, did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.
The agreement, dated Sept. 16, 2008, says that the district's director of secondary schools, Denise Quinlan, filed unspecified charges against Krenik with the school board in February 2008, charges the board accepted a month later. Those complaints were dismissed after Krenik signed the agreement.
By accepting the money, Krenik also agreed not to sue the district.
Krenik, the former chairman of the St. Paul Republican Party, ran for state representative in 2000. This year, he said he was going to challenge St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, but ended up seeking a school board seat instead.
In the September primary, Krenik got the last spot available on the November ballot when he came in sixth of seven candidates, beating only Republican Richard Easton. Three spots are available on the board for the general election. Another will be filled by a special election on the same ballot.
It is not unheard of for disgruntled former district employees to run for the school board and win.
A school board member in Prior Lake was a campus supervisor at Prior Lake High School when he was fired by the district. He ran for the school board that same year and won, causing the superintendent to resign.
A fired custodian sits on the New Prague school board, and a principal who was pushed out the door of a high school in the South Washington County district is running for the school board there.
Krenik filed a complaint against the district with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Feb. 1, 2008, two weeks before Quinlan filed her charges with the school board.
In the complaint, which was later dismissed, Krenik said the district had discriminated against him because of an unspecified disability.
He said that, in May 2005, he confronted Winston Tucker, the principal at Murray, saying Tucker had "abusive behavior toward both staff and students."
"Dr. Tucker's reply to me regarding his behavior was, 'We'll see how far you get in reporting me,' " Krenik wrote. "Beginning shortly after this incident and continuing throughout my employment I have been subjected to discriminatory treatment."
Tucker declined to comment.
Krenik alleged that his full-time behavior-management aide was taken from his classroom, something he said he needed because of his disability. He also said that he was the only teacher not allowed to send students to in-school suspension. Because of this, he said, he was struck in the head by students three times, something that he said could have consequences for his disability.
Few details about resignation
He said in June 2007 that he heard from an administrator that he would be recommended for termination.
The human rights department dismissed Krenik's charges after looking into the situation, saying that the evidence "did not substantiate [Krenik's] allegations of discrimination."
The St. Paul Public Schools has declined to release further details about why officials paid Krenik $12,000 to resign.
Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, also signed Krenik's settlement agreement. She declined to comment, saying that the union doesn't comment concerning specific member cases.
By accepting the money, Krenik also agreed to withdraw a request for an opinion from the commissioner of administration regarding the district's handling of his employee data.
Between the years 2002 and 2005, Krenik also challenged assessors' valuations of several pieces of land he owned in St. Paul. By doing so, Krenik reduced the taxable value of these properties by a total of more than $130,000 over the years.
He also received a $6,500 settlement from Comcast in 2005 because he said the company's employees damaged his property while working on cable TV lines.
He said that the company's trucks drove over his "No Trespassing" signs and caused ruts.
As part of Krenik's settlement agreement with the district, it agreed to remove from its files every document that Tucker, the Murray principal, completed about Krenik and place them in a separate investigative file maintained by the district's legal department.
Those files are to be released only when required by law, when the district needs the information to respond to charges or claims against the district or its current or former employees, or with Krenik's permission.
The district declined to turn over those documents to the Star Tribune, saying that it is not public information.
The agreement also says that the documents will be destroyed no later than six years after the date of the agreement.
Emily Johns • 612-673-7460