Duluth School District Settles with Former School Board Member for $55K

Art Johnston sued the district after he didn't receive responses about his data requests for several months

DULUTH, Minn. – The Duluth School District has reached a $55,000 settlement with former school board member, Art Johnston.

Johnston made data requests with the district that were not responded to after several months.

In settling the lawsuit, the Duluth School District does not admit any wrongdoing.

Johnston filed four data requests with Duluth Public Schools in March 2018. He requested data on more than $12 million in change orders involving the district’s unsold properties like the former central high school building.

The district did not respond by August and Johnston filed a civil lawsuit, which was recently settled out of court.

In September, the district released the data Johnston requested. He says he is now reviewing the data.

“I’m doing this one, because school districts should not be immune to obeying the law and two, they have to tell the truth. And I think one of the settlements were that the school district would comply with the data practices act in future requests,” said Johnston.

At a recent school board meeting, an attorney advising the district, said the type of major data request Johnston filed is hard for school districts to process quickly.

“In this case in particular, there were roughly three hundred thousand discreet pages of documents that were requested that take an extremely long time to gather and then wade through,” said attorney Trevor Helmers.

As part of the settlement, Johnston agreed to not make any more data requests to the district. He hopes after his settlement, people with similar requests will get the data they ask for.

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