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Duluth Schools Superintendent's Wife Screens School Board Candidates

August 18, 2017 09:57 PM

The wife of Duluth's School Superintendent is on a committee that decides on endorsements of Duluth School Board candidates. Deanna Gronseth is a long-time teacher for Duluth, and also serves on the Hermantown School Board. She told us this year was the year she decided to volunteer to be part of the endorsing committee, for the Duluth Federation of Teachers.

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She and 13 others recently endorsed four candidates who are running for Duluth's school board in the fall. The endorsed candidates are Sally Trnka, Josh Gorham, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, and Jill Lofald.

According to Harry Welty, he was not endorsed, nor was Loren Martell, Art Johnston, or Dana Krivogorsky.

The endorsement screening took place on the evening of August 8th, at the DFT office.

In this week's edition of "The Reader," writer John Ramos raised the issue that Gronseth serving on the endorsing committee was a potential conflict of interest, as the school board votes on contracts and salaries for the superintendent, her husband.  The newspaper added that Johnston and Welty have been critical of the superintendent, and that Johnston was even accused of getting into a shoving situation with Gronseth.

Deanna Gronseth said she asked the teachers' union leadership ahead of time if her being a part of the screening endorsement process would be a conflict of interest, in terms of making any of the candidates uncomfortable.

"The union leadership told me it was not a conflict of interest, as I am a member of the union. And I'm only one voice in the union, and my one voice is not going to carry the weight of the entire union," Gronseth said.

The president of the DFT was traveling on Friday. Bernie Burnham spoke to us over the phone, and said, "I don't see this as a conflict of interest. The school board also votes on teachers' contracts, and I think when you're a member of the union, you're allowed to participate in any event and have a voice like anyone."

Voters will decide on the candidates on November 7th.


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