TRUMAN, Minn. (AP) — The Truman School District in southern Minnesota will settle a lawsuit filed by a paraprofessional who said she was fired for being a whistleblower.

The school board voted Monday night to settle the lawsuit filed by Val Wilcox-Pesta for $80,000. The school district admits no guilt in the matter.

Wilcox-Pesta’s lawsuit, filed in 2009, says she went to Principal Brian Shanks after finding marijuana in her son’s pocket. Wilcox-Pesta alleged Shanks’ son sold her son the drugs. Shanks’ son denied the allegations.

The Fairmont Sentinel says Wilcox-Pesta went to state officials and the Minnesota Board of School Administrators because she believed there was a lack of concern by administrators and a failure to discipline students involved in the drug sale. Wilcox-Pesta was notified several months later that her position was eliminated.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (11)
  1. Realist says:

    If that’s true, then why would she report this incident to officials months before she was notified she was losing her job? If the school was truly innocent in this matter, then they wouldn’t be paying out $80k. Settling out of court for $80k pretty much confirms they didn’t feel they had a chance of prevailing in a court of law.

    1. Paul says:

      Sometimes settling out of court is cheaper then the cost of going to court. Furthermore, Aide positions are eliminated all the time due to fluctuation in enrollment. It’s entirely possible that it was a coincidence that she lost her job and she is looking for an easy payday

  2. Pork Chop Fan says:

    Good point by realist. I don’t know anything about this case, but why pay out if there wasn’t some kind of cover-up?

    If there was no fault by the principal or the board, they should have sued the whistleblower. I’m guessing the school has pretty good lawyers?

    1. Chris says:

      This may have been a purely business decision by the school…

      While $80K may seem like a lot, it may have cost much more to fight it out with the attorneys.

      It may not be good policy or the right thing to do, but money does drive these settlements most of the time.

      There may have been good cases to be made on each side, but that usually gets lost in the shuffle… part of what is wrong in our suit happy society.

  3. Do What's Right says:

    Yay Val!

  4. supporter says:

    It is hard to understand all of this when you don’t know all of the facts. I know that I would want my child held accountable for his/her actions. That is what Val was trying to do. That is where the administration failed. The principal waited 10 days to report the matter and then police where involved. The son was given in school suspension only after his name was published in the paper, while the other children were not punished. Isn’t it our duty to teach our children what is right and wrong. Sure kids give into peer pressure, but we need to be there to back them up and use it as a learning lesson. Val was doing that. I wouldn’t want my childs school pushing something wrong “under the rug” and wishing it to disappear. We all have a right to our opinions. Val is a very competent in her job. She is “highly qualified” from the state of Minnesota. Val didn’t care about the money. She was doing this as a matter of principle. People shouldn’t get bullied and get away with it. She stood up for what was right and I applaud her for that!

  5. Making The Right Decisions says:

    This is an issue that should have been reported and was at the right time by Wilcox-Pesta. The student who bought the marijuana (from the Principal’s son) paid the price and was held accountable as he should have been. The Principal did wrong by hiding the evidence and by not reporting it, as that is what his job entitles. Whether it’s about the $80,000 or not, this matter needed to be resolved. Wilcox-Pesta was a well-liked paraprofessional and did her job. There were way too many suspicions about this particular position being elminated, then being filled without advertisement – everyone who knows best, knows that Val is going to get what she deserves after being mis-treated. A lesson learned for those still within the Truman School District – good luck to you.

  6. Farmer says:

    The school district is paying Wilcox-Pesta and attorney 80,000 yet they have no guilt??? Thats a funny one. Get the facts before you comment.

  7. Chocolatelover123 says:

    HEY! Val is my friend! be nice

  8. Chocolatelover123 says:

    Paul. Shut up.

  9. doesn't matter says:

    hey paul….doesn’t appear that you know much about this and should keep your comments to yourself! The Truman school district comes with “expectations” – if you were not born and raised in that town – you are an outcast! You can try to accomodate to the town’s needs and never will you fit in. They cheat, lie and are “holy’er than thou” on Sundays…the focus of the town seems to revolve around who can screw who and who can get by with it. This particular situation was not about money, nor parenting. It was proving a point that “some” people got caught doing wrong…now $80,000 is paying a price. This has been a reputation for Truman for many years. Until they accept people and change their ways – the town will continue to work on being the next ghost-town….old money and old values. It’s about time someone made a wake up call. Grow up Truman – I believe many more will follow if your standards aren’t “re-evaluated!”

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