A long disputed, Washburn High School scoreboard, was used during the schools Friday night homecoming game. On Friday, the Star Tribune reported that the new scoreboard was installed last week and was tested during a soccer game on Thursday night. Students, staff and parents had long been anticipating the arrival of the new scoreboard. Due to controversy surrounding its size and if the school had obtained proper permission, the installation of the scoreboard had been put on hold.
Last school year, around 300 to 500 Washburn students staged a walk-out and sit-in in support of the schools former athletic director, Dan Pratt. It was believed that an investigation was started by the school to find out if Pratt obtained proper permission to purchase the new scoreboard. Pratt supporters claimed that former Washburn Principal, Carol Markham-Cousins, wanted to use the score board purchase to fire him. The investigation found that Pratt didn’t have the proper permission. In a separate incident, KARE 11 reported that four Washburn students were caught hanging a “brown-skinned baby doll by its neck…” in a hallway of the school.
The school had planned to place the scoreboard outside of the north end of their stadium. Neighboring home owners weren’t to happy with this plan, because it meant that trees would have to be cut down. The city investigated the matter and concluded that the district didn’t obtain the proper municipal approval. They also ruled that size of the scoreboard was too big and didn’t meet the guidelines of the cities zoning rules. During the summer break Pratt left Washburn, he now heads athletic and extracurricular activities for Rockford schools. Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson also reassigned Markham-Cousins to oversee the school located within the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.
Last April, Johnson appointed the former Ubah Medical Academy associate director, Patrick Exner, to be the new Washburn principle. After being on the job for one day, Exner was placed on administrative leave. The district received an anonymous e-mail that triggered an investigation into Exner’s time at Ubah. The e-mail claimed that Exner changed the answers of students state graduation exit exams. In mid-July, the Ubah’s testing coordinator had reported that there had been a test security breach, which was confirmed by state education officials. The district reported on Friday that Exner is no longer employed by them.
In the fall of 2010, Ubah staff members initiated a process to unionize the school in order to provide oversight, which they felt the school was lacking. The school’s staff voted for a union. Ubah’s director, Musa Farah and Exner fought against staff members from unionizing. There are also reports that Exner served as a supervising teacher for a student teacher, without having a teachers license. Exner later obtained a substitute teacher license, to avoid getting in trouble.
Linda Conley has has been appointed as the interim principal for Washburn High School, by Johnson. It seems as if peace has been restored on the schools campus, but only time will tell.