WEST FARGO - Leaders of the West Fargo and state teachers' unions have declined to say whether either of their groups or affiliated organizations contributed money or other resources to the legal defense of West Fargo High School English teacher Aaron Knodel on charges that he had sex with a 17-year-old student in 2009.
Lisa Dullum, a music specialist at Freedom Elementary and current president of the West Fargo Education Association, said her union had no comment on the case, "as it is still being litigated."
She referred questions about the resources available to Knodel to Nick Archuleta, president of ND United.
"North Dakota United has no comment at this time related to the case of Mr. Knodel or the services that have or have not been provided to him," Archuleta wrote in an email.
ND United offers its members two free, 30-minute legal consultations per year through its Attorney Referral Program, its website stated.
According to ND United's website, the state teachers union has ties with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
The NEA offers considerable resources to its members, its website states.
While benefits can vary by state, NEA benefits include paying:
• Up to $3 million per occurrence in defending civil proceedings (other than civil rights proceedings) brought against a teacher in the course of their educational employment.
• Up to $1 million in damages assessed against a teacher as the result of civil proceedings.
• Up to $300,000 worth of defense, settlement or judgements and other supplementary payments for civil rights proceedings.
• Up to $35,000 for attorneys' fees and legal costs in criminal matters tied to the course and scope of a teacher's educational employment, provided the teacher is exonerated of all charges by a court or that the charges are withdrawn or dismissed. If the incident involves the administration of corporal punishment, the policy will reimburse the educator regardless of the outcome of the case.
• Up to $1,000 of a bail bond premium tied to an occurrence arising out of educational employment.
• Up to $500 for damages to personal property caused by an assault on an educators in the course of their employment.
The AFT's Union Plus benefits include up to 30 minutes of free legal consultation and a 30 percent discount on hourly legal rates and fees.