Principal hired at Minneapolis Washburn fudged on résumé

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 13, 2013 - 8:07 PM

Patrick Exner, ousted over allegations of changing test answers, inflated his role at Hopkins charter, prompting hiring practices review.

 

Short-lived Washburn High School Principal Patrick Exner misstated some of his background on the résumé submitted to the Minneapolis School District.

Exner listed his current job as “academic director (principal)” at Ubah Medical Academy, a Hopkins charter school. But the school website lists him as “associate director” under Director Musa Farah, who was listed as the school’s principal in a mid-July report to the state. Exner also listed Ubah’s size as 350 students, or 10 percent bigger than the enrollment it reported to the state.

Exner was removed as Washburn principal after the school district received an anonymous e-mail alleging that he’d changed answers on the tests of several students in June at Ubah. He was still on the district payroll Tuesday afternoon.

The episode has prompted a district review of hiring practices, said new district CEO, Michael Goar. “There are definitely areas we can improve.”

The district has two key principal openings this year: a replacement for Exner at 1,200-student Washburn and a new leader for the 1,800-student South High.

Goar said one lesson from the Washburn experience is that hurrying to fill a vacancy can have consequences. The district wanted someone in place to open the school year. But it only got 23 applicants and interviewed only Exner. His appointment was announced Aug. 2.

“We’re always in a better position when we have a bigger pool,” Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Kreyer said.

Goar said another lesson is to look at insiders first. “We already know who they are. They have worked for us. They understand our culture.”

Washburn Assistant Principal Linda Conley will step in until a replacement is named.

The district said that it checked Exner’s references and made informal reference checks. But the district did not contact his boss, Farah, who reported the test breach to the state, listing Exner as testing coordinator.

“We were given nothing but positive feedback,” Kreyer said. “There was not one mention of any blemish on this guy’s record.”

The district also interviewed Exner.

“He answered all of the questions we asked of him. The bigger question is do we ask the right questions?” Goar said.

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib

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