Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Wednesday that she was unaware when she hired Patrick Exner as the short-lived principal of Washburn High School that the district hadn’t spoken with his previous supervisor.

“That’s a basic part of a reference check,” Johnson said when a reporter cornered her to ask how the failed hiring occurred on her watch.  Johnson previously hadn’t been made available by the district to answer questions on the topic.

The Star Tribune reported earlier this week that personnel officials didn’t interview Exner’s boss at Ubah Medical Academy, Musa Farah. It was been alleged in an anonymous e-mail received by the district last week that Farah told the Ubah board that he was planning to discipline Exner for allegedly changing answers on three student tests.  The district removed Exner from the Washburn job after four days but he remains on paid administrative leave on the district payroll.

“I’m not sure what he’s going to do and what we’re going to do,” Johnson said when asked about Exner’s job status.

“We felt he met the qualifications for filling the job,” Johnson said, when asked why the district interviewed only Exner for the job and didn’t wait to fill it.  She said she felt an urgency to getting the job filled before the school year starts. The district got 23 applications for the post after extending the application deadline in July. 

Johnson's No. 2, Michael Goar, said Tuesday that the district will revamp its hiring procedures because of the episode.