The Controversy over Mr. Perucco and What This Means For Other Teachers at Minnetonka

Annika Tamte, Editor-in-Chief

About two months ago, outrage over an MME teacher’s highlighting of Marsha P. Johnson, a Black queer activist who spearheaded the movement for LGBTQ+ rights, sparked a conversation about the Minnetonka School District’s priorities and commitment to implementing an inclusive educational curriculum.

Earlier this year, the Minnetonka Coalition for Equitable Education (MCEE) worked with the school board to pass Goal #2. This directive focuses on providing a more diverse and representative educational experience for students. 

However, when Perucco taught about Marsha P. Johnson, it was filmed without his consent and sent to Daily Wire, causing an article that repeatedly placed Mr. Perucco in the wrong to be written. 

The Daily Wire article states that Perucco “may be violating the school’s guidelines by promoting political figures” and “there is no excuse to bring any of this into the classroom.” 

Additionally, the parent who initially reported the incident stated that the “political atmosphere of classrooms is inexcusable.” 

After the article was published, Perucco started to receive hate and criticism from various groups and people simply for doing his job: teaching. Not only this, but the lack of support from the Minnetonka School Board and administration caused particular indignation among students. 

Luke Boline, an English teacher at Minnetonka High School, said, “as a fellow teacher, it was alarming that a teacher trying to educate and celebrate and include a diverse set of voices when that is something that we try to do as educators to inform whenever and however we can and to see a reaction with such vitriol was scary.”

To be clear, the Minnetonka School Board has not come out blatantly stating that Perucco has been in the wrong. The MME principal did send an email to MME families saying that Perucco’s job is safe; however, the lack of support for Perucco and the unaddressed assumption that there was something inherently wrong with him teaching about Marsha P. Johnson is what has ignited fury within the student body. Students were especially angry considering the district’s Goal 2-Excellence and Belonging: Diversity. Equity. Inclusion., which calls for more representation in the education that Minnetonka provides to its students. 

Deepti Pillai, ‘24, a core member of MCEE, said she believes this is performative activism on the school board’s part by giving the appearance of being open to changes, but then not actually carrying through with this later on. 

This led MCEE to organize a protest on March 4 along with a list of demands to try and ensure Perucco’s current and future well-being would not continue to be at risk due to his doing his job by teaching and supporting his students. 

Solveig Lee, ‘21, is one of the core members of MCEE and a leader of this protest. 

When asked about the motivations for initiating this protest, she said, “we wanted to bring attention to how many people were supporting Mr. Perucco in this issue.” 

They also wanted to provide people with resources and support, specifically from the House of Pride, that the school board was not. 

Lee also said that she was, “shocked at the level that it reached with the lack of support from administration as well as the blame that was placed on [Perucco]” and this “showed where Minnetonka’s priorities are.”

Linden Rude, ‘21, was in attendance at this protest and said, “it took me a while to hear and understand what happened. I think it is completely unfair that he was recorded without his consent and the horrible things that were said in this article just for teaching American history” and “we deserve to learn about all types of history, especially queer and BIPOC history.”

Over two months have passed since the Daily Wire article was posted and it is now clear that Minnetonka has not acted and, like so many other things, this too has been brushed under the rug instead of confronted. This represents a continual issue: Minnetonka’s silence over social justice and human rights issues that ultimately do have an effect on students’ well-being. This year in particular, there have been constant calls to the Minnetonka School Board and administration to take meaningful action in implementing an education that is more equitable and welcoming to all students. This was an opportunity for the Minnetonka School Board and administration to step up and assert that expanding education to be more inclusive is a movement in the right direction; however, once again, criticism has been confronted with complacency.