Education

Teacher Who Said Student Beat Him Up for Being White Loses in Appeals Court

By Daarel Burnette II — August 10, 2018 2 min read

A St. Paul, Minn., high school teacher who claimed he was beaten up by a black student for being white has lost his appeal of a federal court ruling that dismissed his lawsuit seeking punitive damages against the district.

Amid community-wide racial tension over the mainstreaming of students with special needs and the role of the police in schools, John Ekblad, a teacher at Central High School, sued St. Paul Schools in 2015 for negligence after he suffered several injuries when a black student slammed him to the floor and knocked him unconcscious as he tried to break up a cafeteria fight.

Ekblad claimed the student used racially tinged comments after the attack and said the district’s workers’ compensation benefits were inadequate. The district also paid his medical bills.

U.S. District Judge David Doty said Ekblad failed to prove his case merited consideration beyond the remedies provided by the state’s workers’ compensation, according to the Star Tribune. Doty also said the student’s comments after the attack referenced not just Ekblad’s race but also his status as a teacher.

A federal appeals court on Aug. 8 rejected Ekblad’s challenge of that decision due to a lack of evidence.

Ekblad was one of a string of teachers in St. Paul who successfully urged the board to fire Superintendent Valeria Silva, in 2015 after dramatic demographic changes and changes to the way the district assigned students with emotional and behavior disorders. Her separation agreement cost the district, already in severe financial distress, $787,500.

Although the teachers said violent incidents were increasing in the school since the changes, an Education Week analysis of the district’s discipline data over five years showed that violent incidents were actually dramatically decreasing, though disparities between how black and white students were punished still existed.

Ekbalt then took his case to Washington where he, along with a handful of other teachers and advocates urged U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to rescind guidance issued under President Barack Obama that urged districts to scrutinize disparities between students of color and white students. Ekbalt argued the guidance left teachers vulnerable to unsafe conditions.

According to a recent Education Week report, in the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.


Don’t miss another State EdWatch post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox. And make sure to follow @StateEdWatch on Twitter for the latest news from state K-12 policy and politics.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read