Exner was placed on administrative leave earlier this week after accusations of his tampering with test scores in his former job as deputy head of Ubah Medical Academy in Hopkins.
The following is the letter that Johnson sent to families yesterday:
Dear Families of Washburn High School,
I believe that Washburn High School needs a leader who will accelerate the positive momentum that has been building over the past few years. Due to the recent issues regarding Mr. Patrick Exner, I have decided that he will no longer serve as Washburn’s principal.
I am committed to doing everything possible to prepare for a strong school start, and most importantly, support the school community to move forward with assurance that students will continue to receive a rewarding high school experience at Washburn. I am confident that Washburn administrators and teacher leaders, with the support of the Washburn community, are equipped to support students through this transition and keep students focused on school. Washburn staff members continue to show leadership and a strong commitment to their students.
The issues surrounding Mr. Exner’s hiring have created an additional distraction that we cannot allow to continue. We are glad that the issue was brought to our attention, although we would have preferred to learn of any possible issues of concern during the hiring process and before the job offer was made. Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) conducted a thorough hiring process for the Washburn principal position, including references calls, and nothing surfaced as a potential problem.
I am dedicated to stabilizing the school in a way that creates a productive learning environment for our students. The best way to move forward is to work with the school community to identify a new leader for Washburn High School.
Assistant Principal Linda Conley will now lead the school as interim principal, with support from Assistant Principal Nilo Guanzon and temporary assistance from Craig Vana. A qualified teacher leader will be selected to serve in the assistant principal role. This administrative team will ensure that students and programs can start smoothly as we prepare to hire the right leader for a great school with great students. Our students deserve nothing less.
I would like to hold a meeting next week for interested Washburn parents to learn more about our plans for the upcoming school year. You are welcome to join me, my leadership team and Washburn staff on Thursday, August 15 at 6 p.m. in the Washburn auditorium.
Bernadeia H. Johnson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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