Washburn High declares alert as student walkout looms

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  • April 7, 2013 - 8:20 PM

School administrators have declared a code yellow alert at Washburn High School for Monday in advance of Monday’s planned student walkout in support of school Athletic Director Dan Pratt.

District spokeswoman Rachel Hicks said this weekend that the alert, which normally is declared in response to a perceived security threat at a school, is being imposed as a precaution.

Students are rallying in support of Pratt, and said that he has been told he is being fired. The district disclosed last week, in answer to a Star Tribune inquiry, that it is investigating Pratt for a “private personnel matter.”

The district is not required by state law to disclose more than that unless it decides to impose discipline on him. However, the issue is said by students and others involved with Washburn athletics to involve whether proper approvals were obtained by Pratt for a scoreboard that was to be installed when the school’s athletic field was renovated.

Principal Carol Markham-Cousins told parents of the code yellow alert in a voicemail Friday in which she said that several hundred students, alumni and community members may participate in a walkout or sit-in.  She asserted that “many rumors and inaccuracies” have been posted on social media about the situation but did not respond to a Star Tribune offer made through Hicks to discuss them.  Pratt also has not responded to attempts to contact him.

Students who leave the school Monday will not be allowed to return, and students who stay but miss a class period will be considered unexcused absences, Hicks said. In both cases, they won’t be able to participate in after-school activities, the district said.  Washburn has two baseball games and a tennis match on its schedule Monday.  However, plans for both a walkout and athletics could be affected by a soggy forecast. 

The district issued a statement Sunday evneing that said in part: "decisions related to Mr. Pratt’s employment with MPS have been and continue to be made by the school district, not by Washburn Principal Markham-Cousins or other school staff members. The planned demonstration in support of Mr. Pratt will not have any bearing on the outcome(s) of the private personnel matter."       

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