Reporting Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Washurn High School’s principal of six years has been removed from her post and reassigned within the Minneapolis school district. The district says it wants to give the school new leadership to “calm the building.”
Carol Markham-Cousins has been at the helm during what the district has called multiple distractions this year.
In January, students hung a dark-skinned doll in a noose and posted it online. The schools response at the time made many parents angry. Then, earlier this month, athletic director Dan Pratt was placed under investigation. That caused some students to stage a walk-out and a sit-in.
Markham-Cousins didn’t return calls Friday, but did release a statement on Thursday.
“Minneapolis Public Schools Associate Superintendent Theresa Battle informed me this morning that this action taken by the district involving my work is not a disciplinary action. At this time I have chosen to accept a reassignment in Minneapolis Public Schools.”
In a statement released today, Minneapolis Public Schools Spokesman Stan Alleyne called Markham-Cousins a passionate advocate for students and family.
“Because events over this current year have distracted from the learning environment at Washburn, the MPS Administration recognized that a change in leadership is necessary to restore an effective learning environment,” he wrote.
Many of the students and parents were upset with the district’s decision, crediting Markham-Cousins for turning around the school.
“It was Ms. Markham-Cousins who saved this school,” said student Dylan Cima. “I understand why she had to leave because there was a lot distractions in school, and a lot of kids were like skipping class.”
But others thought change was needed after what’s happened at Washburn this year.
“It’s a good idea, something has to give,” student Malik Morris said.
The school district did confirm Markham-Cousins is under investigation for her dealings with the athletic director and a new sports scoreboard, as well as an alleged threat against a student who organized the walkout.
The district is adamant that those investigations were not related to her reassignment.
Friday afternoon, the district also announced Craig Vana would be the interim replacement. He retired from the district last year, but most recently was the head of the office of department of emergency management and public safety. He had also been a principal at Folwell and Edison.