The case of a former St. Paul Public Schools teacher who alleged the district retaliated against him for criticizing its discipline practices may proceed to trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Aaron Benner claims he was a victim of race discrimination and retaliation under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act when the district investigated him four times during the 2014-15 school year.

The moves came after he spoke in opposition to the district's implementation of its racial-equity policy.

In a 72-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote that Benner had the right to a jury trial on the discrimination and whistleblower arguments. But she tossed out two other retaliation claims.

The district sought to have the entire case dismissed.

Nelson said Benner made adequate arguments that he had been treated unfairly compared with white teachers and that he had been retaliated against for speaking out against a policy he believed was illegal.

She set a trial date for Aug. 19.

Anthony Lonetree