ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — St. Paul Public Schools has agreed to settle a 2017 whistleblower lawsuit with a black former teacher who accused the district of retaliating against him for criticizing its racial equity policy that led to a reduction in suspensions of African-American students.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in May that the case could go to trial after concluding a sensible juror might agree that 50-year-old Aaron Benner was forced to quit.

But the school board officially approved the $525,000 payout Tuesday before Benner’s scheduled trial next month.

Benner in 2013 criticized the district’s disciplinary initiatives that included moving more children into normal classrooms and reducing suspensions for African-American students. Benner said that disruptive students were placed in his classroom and contended the policy was “crippling black children” by not holding them accountable.

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