Aaron Benner, the former St. Paul Public Schools teacher who has been critical of Superintendent Valeria Silva and of what he sees as lax district discipline policies, is dropping out of the race for school board.
He said Wednesday that he was “having a blast” in his new job at a St. Paul charter school and wants to give it his full attention.
Benner had yet to raise any money for his campaign, but he has enjoyed strong name recognition as a result of local and national interviews in which he claimed Silva’s push to reduce suspensions of black students failed to hold them accountable for disruptive behavior.
He said he was not prepared to back any other candidates, but knows what he wants: “I am endorsing anyone with the courage to immediately remove the superintendent and eradicate the culture of fear and intimidation in the district,” he said.
This year, Benner accused Silva and Assistant Superintendent Andrew Collins of retaliating against him for his past public criticism by targeting him in a series of personnel investigations in 2014-15 — charges that the district has denied.
He recently began a new job as African-American liaison/behavior coach at Community of Peace Academy.
Although he is exiting the election, Benner’s name still will appear on the ballot. And if he were to win?
“Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen because I want to dedicate all my time and energy to my current job,” he said. “Right now, I’m exhausted — in a good way.”