S.D. legislative panel to investigate allegations tied to Watertown teacher’s worker-comp case

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A Watertown kindergarten teacher’s worker-compensation claim that has gone unresolved for five years now has the attention of some South Dakota lawmakers.

State Representative Sue Peterson said Wednesday the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee would look into the allegations. The Sioux Falls Republican chairs the panel.

Jason Pieper told the committee that his wife, Shelly, was injured by a student in her class in 2016. He said the student threw a steel-legged chair into one of her legs, causing a blood clot and infection that eventually led to multiple surgeries.

Pieper said the Watertown district’s worker-comp coverage is through the Protective Trust insurance association that operates in conjunction with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

ASBSD executive director Wade Pogany provided this response to KELOLAND News: “I wish I could comment because the accusations are misleading or untrue, but because his case is tied up in litigation we cannot comment on the specific issues he brought up until that is resolved.”

Pieper alleged that the Watertown district and Protective Trust wouldn’t respond to a $100,000 settlement proposed by James Marsh, then with the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Pieper said the trust’s members likely would now have to pay $800,000 to $1 million.

Pieper also told lawmakers that the ASBSD website previously showed Protective Trust offered ‘free’ coverage for officials if their school districts participated. He said the information was removed after he informed some legislators about it.

Pieper said insurance pools and third-party administrators need more transparency and school districts need to report educators’ injuries. He claimed the physician who treated his wife was now being paid for testimony by the other side.

“It’s an absolute disaster,” Pieper said.

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