Weather Forecast


Harper dropped pay grievance in deal

Aaron Harper agreed to dismiss a pending compensation grievance against School District 833 when he abruptly resigned as East Ridge High School principal.

An agreement Harper and district officials signed indicates he dropped his grievance just days ahead of a scheduled arbitration Nov. 13. Harper’s resignation was effective Nov. 6.

Harper was paid $129,368 annually, according to terms of a principals collective bargaining agreement. He and former Woodbury High School Principal Linda Plante had filed grievances against the district alleging former Park High School Principal Craig Paul was paid more and under terms outside the union contract.

Harper, who is black, also had raised concerns about racial discrimination because he said Paul was a “middle-aged Caucasian male” who was paid more in total benefits than other principals with similar or more qualifications.

Paul initially was hired as an interim principal at Park in 2011 before he received full-time status in 2012, but he stepped down at the beginning of what would have been his first year as the full-time principal.

While Harper’s compensation complaint was dropped, Plante’s grievance is still pending. Her case was heard Nov. 13 by an arbitrator with the state Bureau of Mediation Services.

There is no timeline for when a decision will be reached in Plante’s grievance, said Mick Waldspurger, an attorney for School District 833.

Plante had alleged sexual discrimination in the pay disparity complaint, but a Minnesota Human Rights Department investigation found no probable cause to substantiate the claim that gender played a role. The conclusion of that investigation allowed the arbitration process to move forward.

A separate Human Rights Department investigation found no probable cause for Harper’s racial discrimination allegation.

Harper’s release of claims agreement notes that he and the district “mutually desire to conclude its pending grievance arbitration as well as any other outstanding matters in an amicable manner that ensures no potential claims or conflicts arise.”

Harper and the district also agreed that he was treated fairly and they agreed not to make false or disparaging statements about one another, according to a copy of the agreement requested by the Bulletin.

Harper signed the release of claims agreement Oct. 31. School Board members Ron Kath and Katy McElwee-Stevens signed it on behalf of the district Nov. 6, the day the School Board approved Harper’s resignation.

Prior to his resignation, Harper was on paid administrative leave while the district investigated a complaint against him. His salary during the period he was on leave — Oct. 23 to Nov. 6 — was $5,452, according to information provided by the district at the Bulletin’s request. Harper did not receive a payment as part of his resignation, but he was entitled to $21,823 for unused vacation or sick time allowed in the district’s principals’ contract.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

(651) 459-7600