Washburn High School principal reassigned due to 'distractions'

9:43 AM, Apr 12, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - There isn't one reason why Carol Markham-Cousins was dismissed as Washburn High School Principal, according to the district, but rather several reasons.

"When you look at what happened over this week and the last few months, there have been multiple distractions and we just feel like we needed a calm environment in the school," Minneapolis Public Schools Communications Director Stan Alleyne said Thursday after news of the dismissal broke.

Three of those distractions have been very public. Earlier this year, a dark-skinned doll was found hanging in a school hallway.
Many parents and students were upset with how that incident was handled.

More recently, when it was announced that Athletic Director Dan Pratt was the subject of an internal investigation concerning a "private personnel matter," students were outraged.

On Monday, they staged a walkout in support of Pratt. Then on Wednesday, they left classes again for a sit-in.

After those latter incidents, when students left the learning environment showing little to no confidence in Markham-Cousins' administration, the district took a closer look at her leadership. 

"We just feel like with what has happened at the school, we need to go in a new direction," Alleyne said.

Students heard of Markham-Cousin's departure late Thursday and, for the most part, were happy with the district's decision.

"It's amazing, [the] best thing to happen to the school in years," student Brett Miller said.

"Now that it's over, everyone is relieved," student Emma Peters chimed in. "It's sad but it's exciting at the same time."

Jamison Whiting was pleased to hear the news as well.
He was a key organizer in the walkout and sit-in this week and said he was threatened with expulsion by the administration for his activism.

Whiting told the school board about it on Tuesday.

The district would not say how much weight Whiting's claim had in its final decision to re-assign Markham-Cousins, but for Whiting, the ends justified his means.

"It looks like it's a new day at Washburn High School," Whiting said.

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