St. Paul Public Schools has agreed to pay $120,000 to a former teacher who claimed the district retaliated against her for speaking to a reporter in 2018.
In 2019, Rachel Wannarka, a former special education teacher at St. Paul's Humboldt High School, filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging retaliation.
In February 2018, Wannarka was named and quoted in a City Pages article that expressed her concerns about the district's support for students with Individualized Education Plans. She claims that after the article was published she received negative performance evaluations, was told she would be transferred to another school and was denied tenure.
Wannarka resigned from her position in August 2018.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights initially found probable cause that the district retaliated and "constructively discharged" Wannarka. When the district appealed, the human rights department upheld the probable cause for retaliation but reversed the probable cause determination for the constructive discharge claim.
"SPPS denies that it unlawfully retaliated against and constructively discharged Wannarka or otherwise engaged in wrongdoing," according to the settlement approved by the school board this month.
Wannarka said she wishes the process had resulted in "some sort of meaningful change for staff who want to speak up."
"For my family and my life, I had to bring this to a close, but I don't feel good about it," she said.