DULUTH — Denfeld High School named a new principal Tuesday, nine months after the firing of Tonya Sconiers, who is currently suing the school district in federal court.
Tom Tusken will step into the principal’s office in August after serving as the school’s assistant principal.
He was for several decades a social studies teacher at Denfeld and has served as football coach, dean of students and as the district’s social studies curriculum specialist. He is the brother of Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken.
The 48-year-old educator graduated from Denfeld in 1990, the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1994 and earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Superior in 2001. He received his principal’s licensure from St. Mary’s University in 2007.
Also in 2007, he won the $25,000 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.
“An advocate of team teaching, Tusken has used hands-on and group activities, as well as passion and humor, to motivate those who find it difficult to attend school and complete routine assignments,” according to the foundation. “At the same time, he provides challenging learning opportunities to those who are ready for more advanced work.”
Former Duluth East Principal Laurie Knapp has been serving as substitute principal at Denfeld since August.
Sconiers was the district’s only black principal when she was fired last July for what her discrimination lawsuit described as “immoral character, conduct unbecoming a principal, insubordination” and other charges.
Sconiers’ attorneys said her firing was retaliation for questioning and publicly speaking out against district policies and hiring practices.
“It saddens me that the district attempted to silence me by threatening me, then suspending me, and now firing me. It saddens me that the district would rather retaliate and discriminate than listen,” she said in September when the suit was filed.
The school district has denied the charges.