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West Fargo Teacher Subject of Criminal Investigation

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The North Dakota Teacher of the year, a West Fargo English teacher, has been on paid administrative leave for a half-year and we now know why.2 / 2

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The North Dakota Teacher of the year, a West Fargo English teacher, has been on paid administrative leave for a half-year and we now know why.

He's High School instructor and coach Aaron Knodel and he's currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

Knodel has been under investigation since at least February 21st according to West Fargo School District documents, and absent from the school since February 19th when substitute teachers were placed in his classroom till the end of the school year.

The criminal investigation launched just months after he accepted the 2014 North Dakota teacher of the year award in September.

Aaron Knodel/Accepting Teacher of Year Award: "Like every one of my colleagues I come in here every day and just do my job and try to make sure that I can teach my students to the best of my ability and give it my best effort every day, nothing I do is unusual compared to what every other teacher does."

The school district has kept the information under wraps, telling only board members of the investigation on the 21st without disclosing the nature of the crime.

West Fargo Police Chief Michael Reitan has only confirmed that there is a case involving a West Fargo schools staff member and it's in the hands of the North Dakota Criminal Bureau of Investigation.

Reitan says there are few scenarios as to why the BCI would have the case.

1 - A real or perceived conflict of interest within the West Fargo Police department.

2 - If the alleged crime or crimes occurred in more than just West Fargo or other possible jurisdictions are included.

3- If the case required more resources than what's available to the West Fargo PD.

An ND BCI spokesperson says the agency doesn't comment on any investigations nor do they confirm investigations are in place.

We'll have more information on this developing story as it becomes available.

No charges have been filed yet against Knodel in North Dakota or Minnesota. Knodel has been a teacher at West Fargo High since 2004.

Brian Abel
Brian joined WDAZ in October of 2014, after reporting and anchoring at WDAY in Fargo since October 2013. He currently co-anchors the 6 and 10pm WDAZ News weekdays, and co-anchors the Saturday 6 and 10pm WDAY/WDAZ simulcast news. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. Brian has traveled across the country as a spokesperson for the automotive industry. He has also lived in Los Angeles, working in entertainment before pursuing his career in broadcasting. It’s experiences like these that give him a unique perspective when reporting. Brian is a Michigan Wolverines fan with an avid interest in politics and golf.  He is thrilled to be sharing stories with the Greater Grand Forks community working at WDAZ and looks forward to hearing any of your comments, concerns and story ideas.