After dramatic week at Washburn, principal asked to step down

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First a walkout, then a sit-in and now Washburn High School's principal Carol Markham-Cousins is removed from her post.

School board members were notified of the Superintendent's decision to reassign Markham-Cousins Wednesday night, the Star Tribune reports.

The week was filled with turmoil as students protested an investigation into Athletic Director Dan Pratt. Hundreds of students staged a walkout Monday.

Sources told the Star Tribune that the district's probe involves whether Pratt had necessary approval for a new scoreboard that was to be part of the renovation of an athletic field.

A leader of the walkout tells the Star Tribune that Markham-Cousins and other administrators used coercive tactics to force him to abort an in-school protest, which prompted a sit-in on Wednesday.

"Events over this current year have distracted from the learning environment at Washburn. We recognize that Ms. Markham-Cousins has been a passionate advocate for students and families, and she did a particularly great job of leading the turnaround of Washburn," district spokesperson Stan Alleyne told the newspaper. "But the administration also recognizes that a change in leadership is necessary now to restore the school’s effective learning.”

In a statement, Markham-Cousins, who was hired as principal in 2007, said she was offered three choices Thursday morning by the school district. KSTP reports the options included resigning, taking a leave of absence or accepting a new position within the district. She chose to stay in the district.

Former Southwest High School Principal Robert McCauley will run Washburn until an interim principal is named to finish the school year, Alleyne said.

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