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Mpls. schools superintendent apologizes for Washburn principal flap

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Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools Bernadeia Johnson apologized to parents of Washburn High School Thursday night over the district's hiring of its new principal, KARE-TV reports.

The district removed Patrick Exner earlier this month after two days on the job over allegations that he changed test scores while at his previous job, Ubah Medical Academy -- a charter school in Hopkins.

Even though Exner denied the claims, district officials said the allegations would be a distraction for him to be an effective principal and placed him on paid administrative leave.

Bernadeia Johnson said she was "deeply sorry" for the controversy, and told parents that she wanted to "make sure that you know that we understand that we made some mistakes in this process."

Exner is also under fire for claiming on his résumé that Ubah had 350 students enrolled -- a number 10 percent larger than the size it reported to the state.

He also denied those allegations.

According to KARE, parents at the meeting Thursday asked Johnson why Exner was the only one of 23 candidates who was forwarded to the school board for consideration for the principal job.

In response, Johnson said some of the other people "had limited experience" or "at small private schools, and didn't have any experience with a diverse school community."

One parent, Kathy Cima, told KARE that "the process that was designed to get a very powerful principal. I just wonder if they take Washburn seriously enough."

Exner was brought in to replace former Washburn principal Carol Markham-Cousins, who was reassigned in April after turmoil surrounding the replacement of the school’s athletic director.

The district will launch a nationwide search for a new principal in the fall, the Star Tribune reports.

Until a new person is hired, MPS veteran administrator Linda Conley will serve as interim chief principal at Washburn, a move that was met with applause at the meeting.

See KARE's report on Johnson's Thursday night meeting with parents below.

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