The school year hasn't even started yet , but the-newly hired principal is already on leave and is being investigated for tampering with test scores.
Just last week, Minneapolis Public Schools announced Patrick Exner would be the new principal at Washburn High School -- but on Monday, an anonymous letter sent to school board members contained allegations that could change that.
The letter alleges Exner "engaged in multiple cases of academic dishonesty' while reviewing responses of Minnesota Grad reading exams, even changing their responses.
"On Tuesday, June 4th, Patrick Exner was administering and proctoring the retakes of the Minnesota Grad reading exam for three students in the media center at Ubah Medical Academy while a teacher was conducting classes in the same room. The teacher witnessed that as students finished answering the questions on their Minnesota Grad exam, Patrick Exner had them stop before submitting the exam, step aside, and allow him to take their place at the testing computer and spend an extended period of time reviewing their answers. What's more, Patrick Exner was witnessed changing students' responses as he reviewed their Minnesota Grad reading exam. When finished, Patrick Exner was witnessed submitting the exam himself before releasing the student to return to class."
The Department of Education confirmed they received a test security notification from the school on June 12 that invalidates the test results of three students. Days later, Ubah Medical Academy vowed to better secure the test sites in the future. The school also said Exner had been removed from any testing responsibilities.
The Director of Ubah Medical Academy, Musa Farah, referred FOX 9 to the board chair for comments, but Abdirashid Warsame never returned repeated calls.
Meanwhile, parents of Washburn students received a letter from the district explaining the newly appointed principal was being investigated, and many are wondering how Exner got through the hiring process if the allegations prove true.
Stan Alleyne, spokesman for Minneapolis Public Schools, said, "All the routine background checks were done and nothing about the new allegations came up. "
The full statement from Alleyne and the full anonymous letter can be found below.
MPS statement on allegations concerning new Washburn Principal Patrick Exner
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) understands that there has been a public allegation made about the new Washburn High School principal Patrick Exner related to student testing. As with any allegation, we should not necessarily assume that it is true. MPS will do its due diligence to investigate this matter and, until this process concludes, Mr. Exner will be on administrative leave.
Craig Vana, who previously served as interim Washburn principal, will temporarily provide support to Assistant Principals Nilo Guanzon and Linda Conley. It is our intention to resolve this matter as quickly as possible and continue with our focus on providing a strong start to the school year.
Chief Communication Officer
Full anonymous letter:
Subject: Patrick Exner's Gross Misconduct
This letter is prompted by the Star Tribune's article reporting that Patrick Exner, Assistant Director and District Assessment Coordinator at Ubah Medical Academy, will be appointed as principal of Washburn High School in the Minneapolis Public School District. The goal of this letter is to inform you because Patrick Exner's gross misconduct warrants serious consideration by your office and the Minnesota Department of Education.
During the final days of the 2012-2013 school year, Patrick Exner engaged in multiple cases of academic dishonesty as he was observed reviewing the responses of multiple students' Minnesota Grad reading exams and making changes to their responses. On Tuesday, June 4th Patrick Exner was administering and proctoring the retakes of the Minnesota Grad reading exam for three students in the media center at Ubah Medical Academy while a teacher was conducting classes in the same room. The teacher witnessed that as students finished answering the questions on their Minnesota Grad exam, Patrick Exner had them stop before submitting the exam, step aside, and allow him to take their place at the testing computer and spend an extended period of time reviewing their answers. What's more, Patrick Exner was witnessed changing students' responses as he reviewed their Minnesota Grad reading exam. When finished, Patrick Exner was witnessed submitting the exam himself before releasing the student to return to class.
Patrick Exner's actions were reported to Musa Farah, the Director of Ubah Medical Academy as well as shared with additional members of the Ubah Medical Academy faculty. Musa Farah found that additional instances of Patrick Exner reviewing students' exams had been witnessed by other staff members on other dates. On Tuesday, June 11th, Patrick Exner was placed on leave, preventing him from attending the Ubah Medical Academy graduation ceremony.
A meeting of the Ubah Medical Academy Board of Directors took place on Tuesday, July 2nd for the sole purpose of informing the board members of Patrick Exner's misconduct. Musa Farah informed the Board that misconduct had occurred and the Minnesota Graduation Exams were compromised. Musa Farah also informed the Board of his intentions to discipline Patrick Exner and to file a formal report to the Minnesota Department of Education.
In light of Patrick Exner's pending appointment as principal of Washburn High School, it is clear there has been no formal action taken to hold Patrick Exner accountable for his unethical, deceitful, and what appears now to be selfish, self-serving actions to pad his resume' with fraudulent successes. Without a formal investigation and appropriate disciplinary action, Patrick Exner will benefit rather than be held accountable for his appalling and gross misconduct. A person who feels he is above reproach to such an extent that he will take advantage of students and commit obvious actions of misconduct, in front of numerous witnesses, is a threat to the integrity of Minnesota's educational system.