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Dennis Peterson, the longtime superintendent at Minnetonka Public Schools, is retiring at the end of the school year. 

Peterson has been the superintendent at the district for nearly 21 years. The email from the district touts his tenure, saying he took over the district at a time when enrollment was declining and has built the district into one known for its excellence. 

“Leading this incredible school district has been the highlight of my career,” Peterson said in a statement. “It has been a privilege to work alongside each of our exceptional teachers and administrators and with our outstanding School Board members throughout the years. I’m proud of all we have all accomplished together and of the myriad educational opportunities and pathways we have developed for our students. 

"It has been my great honor to serve the students and families of this district, and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability throughout the remaining months of my superintendence," Dennis said. 

The Minnetonka School Board will begin a search for a new superintendent of the district, which includes more than 11,000 students, in July 2022.

Peterson, who began his career as a teacher in Nevada, began as a superintendent in 1967, eventually working in Minnesota districts that include Mounds View and Southland. 

Throughout his career, he's earned local and national years, including American Association of School Administrators (AASA) President's Award for Vision and Leadership in Technology (2005), eSchoolNews Tech Savvy Superintendent Award (2006), ERDI Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2007), Minnesota Superintendent of the Year (2009), Minnesota Excellence in Communications Leadership Award (2014) and "Builder of Legacy Impact" Hall of Fame Award.

Peterson has faced some scrutiny as of late for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including comparing COVID-19 to the flu

Related [March 12]: Fallout from Minnetonka school's morning announcements highlights deeper tensions between district, parents

The district is planning to host a celebration honoring his legacy at the end of the school year. 

"Dr. Peterson has been a treasure for our District," Minnetonka School Board chair Chris Vitale said.

"His visionary leadership has catapulted Minnetonka Schools to one of the best school districts in the nation and has helped to ensure that each child who enters our schools has the opportunity to achieve to their highest potential. On behalf of the School Board and the community, I want to thank Dr. Peterson for all he has done and continues to do for Minnetonka Schools, its students, families and staff." 

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