A state appeals court has ruled that there is no evidence that the Minneapolis Public Schools retaliated against a probationary teacher in deciding not to rehire him.
The former teacher at Hmong International Academy, identified in court documents as “A. Xiong,” had filed a lawsuit against the district under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, alleging the district retaliated against him after he refused to compile information on a student that school leaders requested to assess whether the student qualified for special-education services.
Xiong refused because he was convinced that school leaders had not followed proper procedures before they could legally request a special-education assessment, according to court documents.
In a nine-page opinion filed Monday, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Peter M. Reyes Jr. writing for a three-judge panel, sided with the state’s third-largest school district. Reyes upheld a lower-court ruling that Minneapolis Public Schools’ action, in moving forward with the already planned discharge, is not retaliation for whistleblowing.
In December 2018, a district court judge ruled in favor of the Minneapolis school system and rejected the teacher’s claims, concluding that he failed to present evidence showing any connection between his dismissal and his refusal to comply with the school leaders’ request.
School officials had planned not to rehire Xiong after two years, citing poor teaching and classroom management skills, court documents show.
Xiong appealed, arguing in court documents that he was fired one day after the incident occurred and that school officials’ decision to terminate his employment “deviated from set disciplinary practices.”
Attorneys representing the teacher could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
The district said in an e-mailed statement: “We are pleased with the court’s ruling and appreciate the court’s focus on the facts of the case.”