- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The West Fargo School Board has voted to lift the suspension of a former North Dakota teacher of the year who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student in 2009.

Aaron Knodel was acquitted on three of five charges after a trial in April. The other two charges were dropped after prosecutors opted against a second trial.

The school board on Monday voted unanimously to offer Knodel a teaching position during the upcoming school year and decided the high school English teacher should receive back pay for the time he was suspended, according to KFGO radio and WDAY-TV. He was suspended in August 2014.

The board’s decision came after pleas from some people, including Knodel’s accuser, to not reinstate Knodel, North Dakota’s 2014 teacher of the year.

The state board that licenses teachers and oversees teacher standards in North Dakota will meet Monday to discuss Knodel’s license.

Knodel also still must accept the school board’s offer. His lawyer, Michael Geiermann, said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with the license and that the job offer likely will be an easy decision for Knodel. West Fargo’s school year begins Aug. 25.

“Aaron gets his life back,” Geiermann said. “Aaron gets to go do what he’s great at, which is teaching kids and influencing young people.”

Knodel’s trial ended abruptly in April after a juror had a medical emergency during deliberations. Judge Steven McCullough said the woman failed to disclose during jury selection that she had been a victim of sexual abuse, and he ruled that Knodel should be acquitted on the three charges where all 12 jurors found him not guilty.

The judge left it up to the attorney general’s office on whether it wants to retry Knodel on the other two counts of felony corruption or solicitation of a minor.


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