Black Minnesota teacher says district discriminated against him for questioning race-based programs

A black Minnesota teacher is fighting back against the St. Paul Public School district, which he said has discriminated against him for questioning race-based educational programs, according to a federal lawsuit.

“I filed the lawsuit because the EEOC found probable cause that I was retaliated and racially discriminated for speaking up,” Aaron Benner, who taught fourth grade and now is a Dean of Students (9th Grade) at Cretin-Derham Hall,  told Fox News.

“The irony is the racial discrimination charge. My district always talks about racial equity, and then they got caught going after the only black teacher in the school. I had five frivolous investigations opened up on me."

The district allegedly targeted Benner after he publicly criticized the school’s race-based policies, which, according to EAGNews.org, a non-profit organization that promotes education reform, were a direct result of an Obama administration initiative that forced school districts to address disproportionate percentages of minority students being suspended for bad behavior.

Benner – an independent – said it’s not about politics, but rather right and wrong.

“My main problem was that data was being manipulated to keep the numbers low for behavioral referrals when in reality they were going up,” Benner said. “That’s fraud and unethical.”

Benner told Fox News in 2015 that he was punched by a student, and the student was sent back to the classroom within minutes, without any disciplinary action taken.

Benner blamed the San Francisco-based consulting firm Pacific Educational Group, hired by the district in 2010, for conducting “some sort of social experiment” on the students.

“PEG makes no secret of the fact that its prescription for closing the gap is based on the Critical Race Theory,” he wrote in a 2015 op-ed. “This theory argues that racism is so ingrained in the American way of life – its economy, schools, and government – that things must be made unequal in order to compensate for that racism.”

He added: “PEG pushes the idea that black students are victims of white school policies that make it difficult or impossible for them to learn. So, when a black student is disruptive, PEG, as I see it, stresses that it’s not their fault.”

“We don’t have any disciplinary policies that we incorporate in any district whatsoever,” PEG spokesman Kevin Cartwright told Fox News.

St. Paul NAACP Vice President Joel Franklin called it “very disturbing” that the district would go after Benner for “simply voicing concern” about the program, according to the Star Tribune.

“This is going to hamper any efforts to recruit other African-American teachers,” Franklin said.

Saint Paul Public Schools told Fox News they do not comment on pending litigation.

Although U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson indicated the case may be ending soon in a settlement, Benner said he’s willing to go as long as it takes.

“I’m confident that justice will prevail,” Benner said. “I’m in it for the long haul.”

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke