Wood resigns, agrees to settlement with district

Local News

A Blue Earth Area elementary teacher prosecuted for misdemeanor domestic assault has resigned and will receive a settlement payment of more than $19,000.

On Monday night, School Board members unanimously accepted Steven Wood’s letter of resignation effective Sept. 12 and approved a separation agreement to pay him $19,731.

Superintendent Evan Gough in the past has said the district received a complaint regarding Wood and it was investigated. He refused to give any details.

“I can’t say anything that isn’t in the separation agreement,” says Gough.

He would not comment on terms of the settlement nor provide clarification regarding claims Wood made against the district.

An eight-page copy of the agreement was given to the media and also can be found in the board packet located on the district’s web page.

The agreement says money paid by the district is for consideration of Wood’s resignation and settlement of any or all disputed claims.

Wood calls the settlement, “a full and fair payment” and agrees not to file any lawsuits, charges, complaints, grievances or seek additional money. He may still be able to file for unemployment benefits.

In the agreement, Wood says he is receiving valuable consideration from the School District to give up all his claims for violations of:

* Minnesota Human Rights Act;

* Age Discrimination in Employment Act;

* contract the district has with the teachers union, Blue Earth Area Education Association; as well as numerous other violations.

Despite the monetary settlement, district officials are denying any wrongdoing or that they have a legal obligation to Wood.

Within seven days of signing the agreement, Wood may cancel his release of claims to institute federal claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and within 15 days to institute state claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

In an August plea bargain, Wood agreed to a continuance for dismissal of the assault charge.

That means the case has been put on hold for nine months with conditions that he have no same or similar assaultive behavior and pay a $585 fine. He faced a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to court documents, the 31-year-old Wood was arrested the night of May 16 at his home in Winnebago around 10:39 p.m.

While there is no police incident report on public file, Police Chief Eric Olson says an officer responded to a 911 call.

Gough has not said if Wood was allowed to continue teaching following the incident.

The district’s website says Wood taught third grade was at BEA for at least five years.

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