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Reader's view: Johnston pays steep price for democratic dissent

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As a taxpaying Duluthian with a strong prejudice against Bill Gronseth, the worst but among-the-highest-paid schools superintendents in Duluth history, I can only say, the “investigation” of School Board member Art Johnston for as yet largely undefined offenses could not be further off the mark (Our View/Duluth School Board: “Is investigation really necessary?” June 13).

If any charges should be leveled at anyone, they should be directed at the two bringing the accusations against Johnston for their inability to function within the protocols expected and for their failure to realize that dissent is a function of democratic institutions. Gronseth and company may not appreciate the importance of a minority opinion among School Board members, but those of us who are still troubled by the divisive outcomes of the Red Plan certainly appreciate our voice on the board. Johnston has represented those of us who felt the plan was too expensive and that it increased racial and financial disparities in our community rather than being the “fix” it was touted to be.

Knowing Johnston as an honest professional who asks probing questions of the board’s actions, as his oath and obligations mandate, I think we should honor and applaud him. Further, if we consider him as a partner defending his highly qualified significant other, who with love and infinite patience has worked with challenged children at Duluth East High School, his defense of her should be an example for all of us.

As the presumed leader, Gronseth, because of the actions against Johnston and his partner, allowed the wrong message to be sent to the public that pays him and, more importantly, to the students learning life lessons in our schools.

George Hovland

Duluth

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