New info revealed in internal investigation against Duluth School Board member

By KBJR News 1

August 15, 2014 Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 9:24 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- New details were released Friday in the Duluth School District investigation into allegations against board member Art Johnston.

Several emails regarding the allegations were released following a data practices request from KBJR 6 and Range 11 and KDLH 3.

The emails received at the Northlands News Center today regarding allegations made against Duluth school board member Art Johnston were heavily redacted to remove private personnel data on District employees and much of the detail within the allegations.

Some board members are accusing Johnston of assaulting staffers, making racist remarks, and violating the school district code of ethics.

"Where they came up with the racist comments is way way beyond me," said Johnston.

The email documents show that Johnston allegedly made some of these comments during an East High School graduation commencement ceremony.

"The superintendent is saying that I grabbed his arm in front of, in the DECC, twisted him around and the chairman of the board, Mike Miernicki is also saying that I grabbed his arm and spun him around outside. Now this is according to the investigator," said Johnston.

The complainant, whose name was blacked out, said quote, "Art wants to seek some sort of 'justice' in some capacity," and that he "also took time to slander many other people that are a part of our school district."

"I did tap Gronseth on his shoulder like this, because it was loud, there are lots of people talking, there's 500-1,000 people in there and it was hard to hear, and I had to get his attention and so that was it," said Johnston.

School district employees say the third party investigator they hired has completed all interviews with Duluth School Board members.

"She would stay in town for a few days and get as many people as she could. And, ya know, sometimes the interviews that she had led to other individuals who we felt that, not we, that she felt needed to be talked to," said Tim Sworsky, of the Human Resources department of the Duluth School District.

Board member Johnston continues to say that the school administration has been out to get him for a long time, and stressed that all the charges against him are false and bogus.

The third party investigator is now in the process of compiling all gathered information for review by an attorney the district has hired for this investigation.

"Our attorney will work with the school board on how to disseminate that information," said Sworsky.

School district officials say they expect the attorney's review of the investigation to be completed in about an month.