Last night’s Board action may encourage Judge Davis…

to award Art Johnston the summary judgement his attorneys requested because of the Board’s obvious lack of good faith in negotiating some amicable peace instead of relying on the Rice Report to continue to insist that he is a dangerous, violent man.

I posted the resolution on the blog the day before yesterday without reading it. When I finally looked at it in the morning it was even worse than I imagined. So, after Motion one asking the board to simply retract their motion to proceed with removing Art failed I attempted to offer the following amendments. I only got to through Motion 3 before Mike Miernicki moved to vote on the Board majority’s cesspool of a main motion.

Motion Two: I move that we strike the second Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, the detailed and comprehensive investigation report completed by independent investigator Mary Rice, substantiated a number of allegations against Member Johnston, including allegations that he improperly used his position as a School Board member to attempt to influence the outcome of a staff meeting on May 12, 2014, and that he physically assaulted the Superintendent and a fellow School Board member in front of students, parents, and members of the community following a June 4, 2014, graduation ceremony.

Rationale: It was an expensive report which showed little even handedness either in the testimony it included or in its subjective interpretation of the testimony. In no sense can this report be regarded as either fully detailed fully comprehensive or fully vetted in a court of law. Attorney, Mary Rice, herself explained that she was not able to confirm that Member Johnston had violated any Minnesota State Statutes.

As to the allegation of Member Johnston’s improper use of his position while some School Board’s do have such policies the Duluth school district does not. Furthermore, this complaint ignores another of the School Board’s policies which encourages Board members to make use of their right of speech.

Furthermore, the most hideous allegation of a physical assault is so grave that it should only be determined in a court of law which this Board refuses to do. Having allegedly taken place in front of hundreds of people in the community it is deeply suspect that only one School Board member antagonistic towards Member Johnston was there to substantiate the assault from its beginning to its end.


Motion Three: I move that we strike the fifth Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, on March 4, 2015, Member Johnston initiated a federal lawsuit against the School District and five School Board members, seeking, among other things, money damages for claims related to the proposed removal;

Rationale: This whereas treats as objectionable Member Johnston’s duty to defend his good name and the votes of the constituents of his district and his right and obligation to make use of the courts in the same manner as the Duluth School Board majority. This clause is an insult to the entire legal system that the District has itself employed.


Motion 4: I move that we strike the sixth Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, representatives of the School Board and District Administration made multiple good-faith, but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to resolve Member Johnston’s claims against the District;

Rationale: This assertion is a bald faced lie. At no time has the majority attempted to show any good faith attempt to find a resolution short of a court room hearing for the eleven months after it approved the investigation of Member Johnston. Attempts by Member Harry Welty to initiate some other result were rebuffed by then chair Michael Miernicki as early as December of 2014. Subsequent appeals for a different resolution have likewise fallen on deaf ears and an effort by Duluth’s Speak Your Peace organization attempting to bring the different parties together were dismissed by the Superintendent who explained that such an attempt to find common ground would be “disingenuous” because the two sides were so far apart.


Motion 5. I move that we strike the seventh Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, School Board members are expected to serve as role models for District students and staff;

Rationale: This resolution is perfectly reasonable and correct, however, in this context it is being used to suggest that only one school board member is a fault when the recent traumatic eleven months casts a shadow on every member of the Duluth School Board.


Motion 6. I move that we strike the eighth Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, it is unacceptable for a School Board member to improperly use their positions of authority as School Board members or to physically assault or threaten to physically assault anyone, including District staff and fellow Board members;

Rationale: This resolution is making as a statement of fact something that has only been alleged based on the testimony of a very few witnesses and which is so grave that it should only be tested in a court of law. Neither did the School Board see fit at any time to call the police to deal with such a gross and illegal action. As a mere allegation based on no more than the possibly biased intuition of the attorney who conducted interviews. It has no place in a resolution of removal and amounts to defamation without foundation in fact.


Motion 7. I move that we strike the tenth Whereas in the resolution which reads: WHEREAS, Member Johnston’s litigation against the District and his fellow School Board members has the potential to result in a drawn-out, time-consuming and SP-5-15-3269 May 19, 2015 expensive legal process which would distract the School Board from focusing on its primary mission.

Rationale: This verbiage is too self serving for Board members who ignored their own legal counsel’s warning from the beginning of the uncertainty, time and expense that might result should they attempt to remove a fellow Board member. It seems only to have occurred to the School Board majority now that they have squandered a year’s worth of good will and after being handed a defeat in Federal Court that this justification will cover the blemish that they have imposed upon the school district.

Furthermore, having successfully tarred the reputation of the out of favor school board member against whom they brought this action it seems unfair to leave their unproven allegations hanging in a censorious resolution. No court of law has found any allegation against Member Johnston in the so called “Mary Rice Report” to have any basis in fact.


Motion 8. I move that we add point 7 to the Resolution stating that: All school board members will be directed to return one year’s worth of their School Board pay the District to repay the community for the deplorable example they have set and to repay in part for the legal expenses they have forced the District to expend in a futile and vindictive effort to remove member Art Johnston from elective office.

Rationale: this rationale is self evident in the text.

About the author