Anoka-Hennepin superintendent named next leader of Minnetonka schools

The superintendent at Minnesota’s largest school district is leaving after accepting a job at Minnetonka Public Schools.

Minnetonka schools on Friday announced David Law, the current superintendent at the Anoka-Hennepin School District, will replace Dennis Peterson, who announced his retirement last fall. Law has accepted the offer, and "pending contract negotiations," will begin his new job with Minnetonka on July 1. 

Meanwhile, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board says it will "determine a pathway forward and a timeline for recruiting and appointment for the superintendent position," which could include appointing an interim superintendent. 

"We are thrilled that David Law will be taking the helm here at Minnetonka Schools. He is an experienced, proven leader who we believe will help us to harness and preserve the focus on child-centered excellence across our school system and at the same time will infuse new energy into all we do as a district," Chris Vitale, chair of the Minnetonka School Board, said in a news release. 

Law has worked in K-12 education for more than 37 years, serving eight years as superintendent for the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Previously, he was the assistant superintendent at the White Bear Lake School District, assistant principal at Anoka-Hennepin, dean of students in the Mounds View School District, adjunct professor at Bethel University and University of Minnesota, and served as a math teacher at Anoka-Hennepin. 

Law was named 2020 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year and 2020 President of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. Minnetonka’s news release touts his tenure at Anoka-Hennepin, noting he was at the helm when the district saw a "steady increase" in graduation rates, an increase in the number of schools performing in the top quartile in Minnesota in math, reading and science.

"Superintendent Law has demonstrated outstanding leadership for our school district and has emerged as a state and national leader in education," Marci Anderson, Anoka-Hennepin School Board chair, said in a statement. "Academic excellence for our students continues to increase, graduation rates are on the rise and our focus on improvement has flourished under his watch. Collaborative efforts to maintain safe and open schools, particularly during the challenges of the pandemic, are a direct result of his leadership."

Anderson added, "Anoka-Hennepin Schools has benefited from his commitment to excellence and his work has made a difference."

Law earned his BA from Hamline University, his JD from William Mitchell College of Law and his Minnesota K-12 principal licensure and superintendent licensure from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Andover with his wife and children. 

This is the second superintendent candidate Minnetonka sought to hire during its superintendent search. The school board in March unanimously voted to hire Dr. Paul Imhoff, the superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools in Ohio, but he withdrew from consideration hours later. 

The search for a new superintendent began in November after longtime Superintendent Peterson said he was retiring at the end of the 2021-22 school year after 21 years. Peterson has faced scrutiny in recent years, including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and comparing it to the flu.

Law joins the district at a time when Minnetonka students continue to push for change in the wake of recent racist incidents, including a member of the girls varsity basketball team allegedly calling three Black classmates the N-word and telling them to kill themselves. That incident led the varsity girls basketball coach to step away earlier this year, and it was recently announced Brian Cosgriff, who spearheaded the girls basketball program at Hopkins, would be taking over the Skippers. 

Students at Minnetonka High School are planning a walkout at noon on Monday to hold Minnetonka accountable for racial justice. BIPOC students organized the protest and are asking all students and administrators to take the time to listen to what students of color have to say.