New Washburn principal on leave after cheating allegationsby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A newly hired principal at Minneapolis' Washburn High School is on leave after allegations he changed students' answers on state assessment tests.
Minneapolis school district officials say Patrick Exner has been put on administrative leave while the district investigates allegations that surfaced this week.
An anonymous email to state and district officials claimed Exner reviewed and changed answers on students GRAD reading exams this spring while he was assistant director and assessment coordinator at Ubah Medical Academy, a charter school in Hopkins.
The claims are just allegations at this point and are not assumed to be true, though the district will do its due diligence and investigate the matter, district spokesman Stan Alleyne said in a statement.
State officials received word during the summer of a breech in test security protocol at Exner's school but no allegations of misconduct were mentioned. The department and the school invalidated the results of four tests and the issue was considered resolved, said Charlene Briner, assistant commissioner in the Department of Education.
Exner came to Washburn after last year's reassignment of principal Carol Markham-Cousins. Cousins was moved after several high profile incidents that district officials claimed were a distraction for students.
In January, four students hung a dark-skinned doll in a stairwell. Some parents and students thought Markham-Cousins took too long to respond to the incident and then didn't punish the students who hung the doll severely enough.
After the incident Markham-Cousins said the delays were caused because she broke her arm, as well as a problem with the school notification system. And she said she dealt with the student who hung the doll with restorative justice, using the incident as a "teachable moment."
On April 8, 250 students walked out of class to protest rumors that Washburn's athletic director Dan Pratt's job was in jeopardy.
District officials have said no single event was the cause for Markham-Cousins' transfer but haven't discussed the issue in detail because of student and employee data privacy rules.
Markham-Cousins now leads a Minneapolis Public School facility inside the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.
Craig Vana, a former interim Washburn principal, will help run the school temporarily, the district said.